Wave sends Hatfield over; damages Spirit of Canada boat

Latest news from the Vendée Globe round-the-world race: Derek Hatfield is heading north to Tasmania and Australia to make repairs on the Algimouss Spirit of Canada after a wave knocked the vessel on its side and damaged the mast.

Hatfield is deeply disappointed but safe. He has made some makeshift adjustments and hopes to make the 1,000 mile journey to the nearest harbour as safely as possible.

He writes:

After a week battling storm after storm, I thought that we would get a break today with lighter winds. Last night it was blowing 40-47 knots all night long with gusts to 55 knots on occasion. In the gusts, the autopilot was struggling to keep the boat tracking and would round up into the wind. This morning the seas were huge, maybe 25 feet and confused but nothing we couldn't handle normally. I was exhausted and laying in my bunk and crash, the boat went over and I ended up on the ceiling with all kinds of articles whizzing past me. The boat came upright immediately and the carnage inside was immediate. I rushed on deck and my heart sank to see two of the spreaders dangling limp on the shrouds. The shock hits you quickly that this is not fixable and the end of the race is here already. I started to cry and it was uncontrollable. I called Patianne and told her, she was gutted and shocked. It's now been a long day of stabilizing the rig and cleaning up the interior so I can live a little easier and I am still in shock. I feel so bad for Patianne and all the people that have supported us for five long years both financially and emotionally. I know it will pass and we will turn it all around, but the devastating feeling is still here for now. I've headed for Australia to get the boat safely tied to a dock and figure out what to do next. We will persevere and continue on because that is what we do, but right now it's unbelievably difficult. Thank you so much for following and believing in us, we will try and turn it around somehow.     

In a late night interview Derek had this to say: 'As you can see from the picture of the mast there is still a chance that the mast will break, probably above the first spreader, so I am monitoring this situation.'

"I have been in contact with David Adams who is the Australian safety officer for the Vendee Globe Race Committee and he has been very helpful in this situation.

"I have stabilized the rig as much as I can and have the mainsail up to the fourth reef it still doesn't have battens in it as we were waiting until the wind came down which ironically is today. It is dark here now so I'm slowly heading north to better weather I hope.

So now we set about trying to find some support to get the boat back North in sailing trim.

There is a lot of work to do but we are prepared to do what it takes."

Every competitor has taken a beating during the latest five-day blow. Michel Desjoyeux continues to lead the race in his boat, Foncia.  He's in the southern Pacific Ocean making way towards Cape Horn.

For continual updates, go to www.vendeeglobe.org/en
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