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Dismasting in Volvo Ocean Race

By Sailingguide
Abu Dhabi Dismasted

Within hours of the race's start in Alicante, Spain, last Saturday, the Abu Dhabi boat was dismasted in 30 knots of wind. The rig broke in two places when the boat jumped off a wave and, as the skipper described it, the mast just kept on going when the boat hit the water. Amazing! No one was hurt, and the boat turned back and will be given a new mast before rejoining the race. You'd have thought the standing rigging holding up the carbon fiber mast would have been stronger, but all too often these fast boats are engineered right at the limit rather than sacrificing speed to more weight by overbuilding all structural elements. Still, it takes only the failure of one small part in the rigging to bring down the whole - the reason sailboat owners should have their rigging inspected regularly. And in case of failure, all cruisers should have the right equipment on board to cut the mast free quickly before the hull is holed.

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