Day 06, Thursday February 11, 1999

Moredl8.jpg (25391 bytes)
Photo Richard Konkolski

A gale swept over the leading boats and the first casualty was Josh Hall. Half an hour before the end of yesterday he lost his mast. His message would best describe how it happened: "I am about to ruin your day. Disaster has struck - at 2315z last night the mast broke and the whole lot went into the ocean. At the time we were blasting along at 20+ knots in 35 kts of wind and heavy seas. We were under triple reefed main and staysail and though it was fast and furious, she was comfortable."

FolGartmoreFrontAir.jpg (20180 bytes) Hall's Gartmore

"I was at the chart table plotting a position, heard a huge bang and on looking out the window saw the mast tumbling down. It appears that it broke beneath the lower spreaders. It took about 2 hours to cut it away from the boat to avoid hull damage and it appears that the hull and deck are unscathed. I am about 300 miles from the Chatham Islands and I will be meeting Scott there. I am exhausted, my flu not helping my energy levels at all, but some time in the coming 12 hrs will organize a jury rig to help progress. For the moment we are motoring north still in heavy conditions, at about 3 knots."

MSHall2.jpg (14609 bytes) Josh Hall Photo Marek Slodownik

"As you can imagine I am devastated, the more so because we were finally in these strong conditions with working pilots and a great new sail and I was pacing the others well. I really felt the second half of the race could be ours and in one second we have nothing. I've been here before but that only makes it worse. So much effort and time and money and still we get stuffed, I really can't take it all in at the moment. My vague plan at present is to reach safe harbor, organize a sensible jury rig with Scott, sail to NZ and by then we will know the logistics revolving around a new mast and whether or not we ship the boat home or sail it. Whatever, the race is run for us again prematurely; I am gutted, I don't know what to say or do at the moment."

This was Hall's third effort to sail the Around Alone race. In his first entry in the 1990-91 BOC Challenge he finished third in Class II. During his second attempt in 1994, just after crossing the equator, he hit something, probably a shipping container, and sank.

The weather forecast was not good. The conditions would ease over the next 24-hours, but afterwards an approaching cold front would bring west-southwest winds of 25-30 knots, with gusts to 40 knots and sea of 12- to 16-feet.

BBThiercelinFace.jpg (17517 bytes)
Marc Thiercelin Photo Billy Black

The strong wind was not bad for everybody. Marc Thiercelin made a record breaking 24-hour run of 392.3 nautical miles. Peter Dunning send the news to Marc: "Our records show, Feb. 10th 99 0340Z position of Somewhere 47d 12.40'S 174d 58.92W to Feb 11th 99 0340Z position 48d 55.92'S 165d 30.60 W Total distance 392.3 nautical miles. Congratulations, but take care!!! Josh is limping back to Chatham Island under power with his rig destroyed."

MSSomewhere3.jpg (16878 bytes) Thiercelin's Somewhere Photo Marek Slodownik

Actually Marc Thiercelin was not aware about breaking the record. He wrote: "We've had a gale for the last 24 hours. In the beginning, the boat was overpowered under mainsail, staysail, and genoa, so I gradually reduced canvas to just the staysail. The wind has been gusting at over 55 knots, and this afternoon a wave picked us up and laid us all the way over... It was a complete mess inside, the rudders got knocked askew to weird angles, and a lot of water came in aft and into the cabin through the companionway, which had been open."

"It took me nearly three hours to get everything ready to get underway again. Now I'm sailing under staysail alone, and surfing at up to 18 knots!!! But overall, my speed has dropped. I can only hope for better days, because this low seems enormous."

"Nothing is working on board to give me weather reports, so I'm sailing blind. That isn't what I like best, but I don't have much choice. I am now 3,200 miles from Cape Horn, or a good 10 days away. Yesterday, my noon run was 368 miles - another attempt at the record. So that's some of the news on board, until tomorrow."

FolIsaStezenWinch.jpg (33725 bytes)
Isabelle Autissier

As usually Isabelle Autissier was predicting the situation earlier. She wrote: "It looks like this is going to be a windy one, just like Leg 2. We had 40 knots of wind all day, and a growing seaway. The boat suffers as she drops into the troughs, and so do I... Josh has lost his mast... Division I is shrinking to the size of a handkerchief. There are very beautiful scenes, when the sun breaks through and lights up the wind-streaked sea. Not much to do besides watch from the inside between maneuvers. It seems to be calming down a little. We have all fallen off the wind so as to take the seas at a better angle. The centers of the lows seem to be passing pretty far to the north of us, so watch out."

MSSoldiniFace.jpg (18695 bytes) Giovanni Soldini Photo Marek Slodownik

Giovanni Soldini sent his first message as well: "We've finally hit the stronger winds in the South Pacific. A few hours ago I saw my first albatross gliding around Fila which meant we were near to the prevailing currents. The wind is slowly shifting to the southwest and our speed is picking up - together with my morale!"

"Thiercelin was wise to head out of the East Cape first: that small latitude advantage has proved to be useful. Since then he's had the best wind conditions and he's earned himself a further 1.5 degree of latitude advantage and hit the south-westerlies ahead of the rest of us. By this morning he was about 100 miles ahead of us, but now the wind conditions should settle down. Sure, 90 miles south he's going to have more wind, but over the next few days this could prove a problem. Anyway, myself and Fila are in good form and hot in pursuit."

MSHunter4.jpg (16191 bytes) Neil Hunter Photo Marek Slodownik

On the other hand slower second class boat were suffering with no wind at all. Neil Hunter mesaged: "The high pressure system from the west is catching us and it looks like there will be a lot more beating to come. I am heartilly sick of these New Zealand easterlies having had them for a week before arriving in Auckland and now for a week after leaving. Where oh where are the westerlies. And the observant will notice I have gone back westward across the 180 degree meridian and will now have to cross it again when the wind allows."

"Last night was probably the eeriest I think I have ever had on sea. The wind eventually died and the water was as smooth as a sheet of glass. It was completely overcast and almost pitch black. My boat speed meter was reading 0.0 knots yet the GPS said I was doing over 2 knots in a westerly direction. For some reason there was a wake behind the yacht that I could not fathom, like I was being pulled west. The headsail was furled and the main was hanging limp. Weird. And there were fluorescent things all around in the water passing the yacht. With the gentle rolling swell it really did look like and feel like I was upside down and floating with the starry sky beneath me."

Neal Petersen also experienced lack of wind: "I am becalmed. Had no wind all night, just drifting. Watch the moon rise through the clear night. Not a cloud with wind in sight. There is still a leftover sea, rocking the boat back and forth as a current tries to carry us northwest ward. I have crossed the international date line twice, and just can't seem to stay on the western side."

Bvaracci.jpg (15273 bytes)
Photo Richard Konkolski

Positions:

Class 1

Place

Skipper

Boat

Latitude

Longitude

Dist. to go

Speed

Dist. to first

Time

1

Thiercelin

Somewhere

49 09S

159 00W

4339

13.9

0

2140

2

Autissier

PRB

49 06S

160 15W

4384

16.3

44.8

2140

3

Soldini

Fila

48 16S

160 48W

4427

14.7

88.4

2140

4

Hall

Gartmore

45 59S

170 43W

4842

2.2

502.8

2140

Class 2

Place

Skipper

Boat

Latitude

Longitude

Dist. to go

Speed

Dist. to first

Time

1

Van Liew

Balance Bar

46 15S

169 24W

4787

9.8

0

2144

2

Garside

Magellan Alpha

45 42S

168 59W

4792

10.2

4.4

2144

3

Mouligne

Cray Valley

45 57S

171 14W

4860

10.4

73.2

2144

4

Yazykov

Wind of Change

43 27S

172 15W

4984

9.5

196.9

2144

5

Saito

Shuten-dohji II

41 38S

179 50W

5313

1.1

525.8

2144

6

Petersen

No Barriers

42 14S

179 23E

5316

1.3

528.6

2144

7

Hunter

Paladin II

41 56s

179 13E

5333

0.8

546.1

2144

Copyright Richard Konkolski
Return back to Third Leg
Return back to Second Leg
Return back to First Leg
Retyrn back to Sailing Round the World Races
Return back to Seven Oceans