by Oliver Dewar
Global Ocean Race 2011-12 (GOR) second leg finally got underway yesterday, Tuesday 29th November, from Cape Town after a postponement due to heavy weather conditions.
Sails draped over the foredeck seconds after the dismast on Sec Hayai - Global Ocean Race 2011-12 Leg 2
After only 14 hours of racing the Dutch father-and-son team of Nico and Frans Budel dismasted shortly before rounding the Cape of Good Hope and entering the Indian Ocean. Both the Budels are uninjured and have returned to Cape Town unassisted with their Class40 Sec. Hayai while plans are already in place to rejoin the GOR.
Shortly before midnight GMT on Tuesday, Nico and Frans Budel were holding fifth place in the GOR fleet 30 miles south of Cape Town following the start of leg two to Wellington, New Zealand. Sailing in around 17-21 knots of breeze and a rough sea-state, the Dutch duo tacked inshore 19 miles off the appropriately-named Mast Bay carrying the Solent with one reef in the mainsail. As the tack was completed, the starboard shrouds failed and the mast toppled over the boat’s port side. 'We had the backstays on and I was just moving across the cockpit to release the old backstay when there was an enormous bang,' reported 41 year-old Frans Budel shortly after arriving back at the GOR’s race pontoons at North Wharf in Cape Town’s V and A Waterfront Marina on Wednesday morning. 'The mast dropped over the side and then snapped in two pieces in the water.' The two sailors responded calmly and quickly in the pitch black night: 'The sea was pretty rough, but we tried to pull the sails back on board and save them, but it was too dangerous with the broken mast hitting the side of the boat,' explains 72 year-old Nico Budel.
The rod rigging, backstays and forestays were swiftly cut away and the duo contacted the GOR’s Race Director, Josh Hall, to advise him that no assistance was required. Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) Cape Town was immediately informed of the yacht’s status as Sec. Hayai motored back to port. The Budels have just completed a hectic stopover in Cape Town, removing their Class40’s keel to replace the keel bolts and relaunching Sec. Hayai the day before the start. 'It has been tough getting the boat back into racing trim, but we were in very good shape for the Indian Ocean,' confirms Frans Budel. Despite this dramatic setback, Nico Budel, who suffered keel failure on leg two of the 2008-09 GOR competing in the single-handed division of the event on is Open 40 Hayai and was forced to abandon the yacht, is determined to rejoin the GOR. 'It is very disappointing, but we’re already in touch with mast makers and will have a solid plan in place by the end of today,' predicts the indomitable Dutchman with a broad, confident smile. 'Sec. Hayai will be back, trust me!'
For Josh Hall, the retirement of one of the GOR boats from the current leg is a sad development, but relatively easy to remedy: 'It is a real blow for Nico, Frans and the Sec. Hayai team, but they have consistently shown they are capable of dealing quickly and efficiently with almost any situation,' he comments. 'Nico and Frans are two of the most resilient and determined sailors I have ever met and their spirit and drive is matchless,' he adds. 'Even before they docked at the V and A Waterfront, meetings with mast makers, sail makers and electronics companies were organised and the unstoppable, Dutch, offshore racing machine is already in full swing,' says Hall. 'They’ll be back on the GOR race track soon.'
Meanwhile, the remaining five Class40s in the GOR fleet rounded the Cape of Good Hope at midnight, led by Conrad Colman and Artemis Offshore Academy sailor, Sam Goodchild on their Akilaria RC2 Cessna Citation. The South African duo of Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire were closest to the cape with Phesheya-Racing in fourth place, sailing across the mouth of False Bay and tacking away from Cape Hangklip at the bay’s eastern extremity at 06:00 GMT on Wednesday morning as Colman and Goodchild hold pole position in the fleet's approach to Africa’s southern tip at Cape Aghullas.
Global Ocean Race website