Early on the morning of April 27, Holcim-PRB dismasted off the coast of Brazil. The IMOCA 60 was in just days into Leg 4 of The Ocean Race, sailing in moderate conditions. The failure comes as something of a shock since Holcim-PRB has been so dominant in the race up until this point, winning three out of four scoring opportunities and coming in second in the remaining one.
“We had a mechanical failure and the mast came down,” Holcim-PRB skipper Kevin Escoffier said. “That’s life. We are working now on a jury rig to go back to the harbor to be able to be back in the race as soon as possible. The team is working hard to find a solution.”
Three quarters of Holcim-PRB’s crew rotated off the boat for this leg, with Escoffier being the only person remaining from the marathon Southern Ocean leg. There’s no word yet on what specifically went wrong, but there’s no doubt that the team is grateful to have had such a strong standing on the scoreboard leading up to this disaster.
The campaign is considering all their options including the feasibility of getting a mast shipped to Brazil. Per race rules, they would be allowed to restart the leg at a later date once repairs are made, but it comes down to whether that could happen fast enough to be worth it. 11th Hour Racing Team is the only campaign in the race with a spare mast, but because the global IMOCA 60 fleet is relatively large, it’s possible though unlikely that Holcim PRB’s will be able to secure one in time to rejoin Leg 4. Other options include shipping the boat to the next stopover in Newport, Rhode Island, and meeting a mast there or shipping the boat forward two stopovers to Aarhus, Denmark.
If Holcim-PRB manages to get back out on the water for Leg 4, they could expect one point for a last-place finish, bringing their total points to 20. Given their current lead, this would be enough to keep them at the top of the scoreboard. If they skip the leg, and the current second-place team, Malizia, wins, they would be tied for first at 19 points. Barring any disasters for other boats in the fleet, skipping two legs and sending the boat directly across the Atlantic to Aarhus would likely leave Holcim PRB in third place.
This is an evolving story. For the most up-to-date information, visit theoceanrace.com