Volvo race leaders Dongfeng break mast but may continue
ALICANTE, Spain (Reuters) - Dongfeng Race Team, joint leaders of the Volvo Ocean Race, were forced to suspend racing in the fifth leg early on Monday when their mast broke in the middle of the Southern Ocean.
The incident could hardly have happened at a worse position for the Chinese boat, 240 nautical miles (nm) from Cape Horn in southern Chile, one of the most remote places on Earth.
The breakage in the top section of the mast means that the team cannot properly maneuver the boat. No members of the nine-strong crew on board were injured.
The team originally announced that they would have to quit the leg but now they are investigating whether they can continue after making repairs in Argentina.
“There’s still a possibility we could limp all the way to Brazil -- the leg destination -- and that way we’d still earn two points. It may make all the difference in the end. We’ll see,” said a team spokesman.
The boat’s French skipper Charles Caudrelier sent a message to his team, saying he was devastated by the breakage.
The team of Chinese rookies had been joint leaders of the nine-month, offshore marathon race with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing at the halfway stage.
“The mast broke without warning, in about 30 knots of wind," said Caudrelier. "We are unable to sail safely on starboard tack, but we are able to make reasonable speed on port tack. We will head towards Ushuaia, Argentina, and assess our options."
The team was on its way to Itajaí, south-eastern Brazil, from Auckland, New Zealand on the 6,776nm leg when the accident happened. Continued...