After dismasting at 19:45hrs (French time), on Thursday, 15 November, Samantha Davies has secured the boat and has had time to describe the dismasting.
It was quite difficult conditions because I had just gone through the cold front and I had a really cross sea and to start with not much wind and the wind was just starting to establish itself around 25-30 knots and I had the right sails up for those conditions and it had been pretty tricky and then, as I was expecting, we had some big rain squalls coming and the first rain squall came through and I had up to 40 knots, so I bore away and I was easing the sheets from inside the boat and easing the sheets and bearing away to calm it down.
I was mentally preparing myself, as soon as the squalls had finished, to go out and take the third reef for the night, because it was at nightfall when this was going on. And that is the way I had been sailing for the whole race, is quite conservatively and taking a reef, especially at night when you can’t see the squalls coming. So I was getting ready to put my foul weather gear on and that’s when the squall was just finishing and the wind was dropping, that the boat jumped off the top of the top of a wave and that’s when I had the impact and then the boat came upright and suddenly there is no more wind in your rigging.
The hard thing is that when the mast falls down, it falls to leeward so the boat is being pushed on top of the mast, so I could hear the mast rubbing against the hull and down the whole side of the hull and under the boat. I knew that it could damage the hull if I was unlucky, so the main thing was to close all the watertight bulkheads in case it did get pierced.
So I put my survival suit on because it is the best way to go out and check everything on deck and in the time that this happened and the boat turned around, as I expected it would, so that the mast was to windward of the boat and acting more like a sea anchor.
But the worst thing was the really big waves and breaking wave and they were pushing the mast and boom into the deck and into the hull still and everything was moving a lot, like around 2m. And there was still a lot of wind in the mainsail attached to the boom, so every time there was a big gust the boom was lifting off the deck and into the water.
To start with I didn’t want to go outside in case the boom got caught by the wind or in case there was a big jump, so I wanted to wait to see how the whole situation as going to establish itself before I took any chances to go on deck.
One last "night message" before Saveol and I arrive in Funchal where Erwan and Romain are there to greet me.
However, this is not all failure. I was there on the start line with a lovely boat and I have an amazing team, a huge family of sponsors and lots and lots of supporters. Saveol is still here, we can repair her, and I am OK. Given the conditions at the time of the dismasting, all of this is to be thankful for. WE WILL BE BACK!
Good winds to the 16 skippers that are out there racing around the globe. I will follow you closely. When you have a bad day think of me because I would give anything to be out there in your place, even on a bad day!!
16 November 2012 13:54 GMT