Matt Allen’s Jones 70 Ichi Ban, which moved into third place when Skandia broke the top of its mast, suffered its own misfortune at 10.30am this morning when their port rudder blade snapped.
'We are not sure whether we hit something. We heard a bang and I looked back 20 seconds later to see most of the rudder blade floating away,' reported a disappointed Allen who is desperately trying to hold onto second on overall handicap but will struggle to maintain speed once he reaches Tasman Island off the south east Tasmanian coast.
'We have rebalanced the boat to try and dig the starboard rudder in so we can steer. We’ve had a couple of broaches and we’ve had to slow the boat down.
'It seems unlikely it would have just broken off. We had a spinnaker wrapped around it this morning when a halyard broke…I’m not sure whether that caused some damage,' added Allen.
From Tasman Island Ichi Ban will be on starboard tack to the mouth of the Derwent River. This means Allen will have to cant the keel and reduce sail to keep as much of the broken rudder in the water as possible as Ichi Ban reaches across Storm Bay and then tacks up the Derwent River in the nor’west breeze.
This morning prior to the incident Ichi Ban was hitting top speeds of 24 knots and at 1215hrs today they were still sitting on a respectable 16 knots with 53 nautical miles to the finish.
Last year Ichi Ban finished second over the line to Wild Oats XI and fourth on overall handicap.
Roger Sturgeon's Farr STP65 Rosebud is currently leading IRC handicap.