The Southern Ocean has taken its toll on the fleet in the Whitbread Round the World Race, dismasting two yachts and forcing Maryland entry Chessie Racing to head for a remote port in Argentina to pick up parts for its broken water ballast system and freshwater maker.
EF Education, the women's team from Sweden that had been sailing since Feb. 7 with a jury-rigged mast, was dismasted yesterday afternoon in 35-knot winds and big seas.
Reports from EF Education and race headquarters indicate no one was seriously injured when the mast broke in two places between the first and second spreaders.
EF Education was 1,182 miles west of Cape Horn (55 13 N, 102 15 W) when the mast went over the side.
Last week, British entry Silk Cut also was dismasted.
Chessie, Silk Cut and EF Education all are en route to Ushuaia, Argentina, for supplies or repairs.
On Chessie, which has been without a freshwater maker or movable ballast since Friday evening, the crew is strictly rationing food and water.
"No food and three glasses of water a day," Chessie Racing press officer Kathy Alexander said yesterday. "They are catching [rain] water in the mainsail and saving it."
Alexander said the rendezvous with team engineer John Thackwray would take place "sometime this [Tuesday] afternoon." Last evening, Chessie was 140 nautical miles from Cape Horn.
Thackwray arrived in Ushuaia yesterday and the team has chartered a 65-foot boat to motor 75 miles to the rendezvous at Tierra del Fuego.
Alexander said Thackwray will hand over the parts necessary for repair of the starter motor for Chessie's generator system and 50 gallons of fresh water.
Jonathan Swain, trimmer and driver aboard Chessie, reported in an e-mail that winds have dropped below 20 knots and the crew has repaired the mainsail damaged last week.
"We figure we spent a week sailing without 17 percent of the sail," said Swain. "This is yacht racing, as we say in this sport."
While Chessie has been heading for its rendezvous, five of the six yachts ahead of her have lost 300 or more miles to EF Language, which rounded Cape Horn Sunday. The slower sailing conditions could keep Chessie in the hunt for one of the top finishing positions on this leg.
"We are hoping to make some gains on the leaders from here to the Horn due to our positioning on the race course," said Swain. "From [Cape Horn], it still is 2,000 miles to Sao Sebastiao, so the race is by no means over."
Late yesterday, Chessie was in seventh place, only 20 nautical miles behind sixth-placed BrunelSunergy (the Netherlands).
On EF Education, steep waves, strong winds and extreme cold have hampered work to clear away the broken mast and create a sailing rig out of spare or broken parts.
"All currently on deck. Main and boom secured. All OK," EF Education navigator Lynnath Beckley reported to race headquarters yesterday afternoon. "Now trying to disconnect the rest of rig and get on deck before it damages boat."
Whitbread weather forecasters said yesterday the women's team can expect winds from 30 to 45 knots through tomorrow, with gusts approaching 50 knots.
Status: Day 15, Leg 5
Boat .. .. .. Nautical miles to finish
EF Language . .. .. .. .. . 1,807.8
2. Swedish Match .. .. .. .. . 2,106.9
3. Merit Cup ... .. .. .. .. . 2,111.4
4. Toshiba .. .. .. .. .. .. . 2,112.3
5. Innovation Kvaerner .. .. . 2,115.7
6. BrunelSunergy .. .. .. .. . 2,260.8
Chessie Racing . .. .. .. . 2,298.3
8. Silk Cut . .. .. .. .. .. . 2,836.8
9. EF Education ... .. .. .. . 3,315.6
(as of 00: 04: 31 GMT)
Boat beat: Already weakened by stripped spreader support bolts, EF Education's rig has been finished by strong weather, breaking her mast between the first and second spreaders. The rig broke in two places in 35-knot northeasterly winds in big seas. The yacht was on its way to Ushuaia, Argentina, when the incident occurred 1,182 nautical miles from Cape Horn.
Weather: Low pressure between the Falklands and the coast of Argentina and moving eastward. Winds are rotating from northeast to southeast.
Note: Information compiled from the Whitbread Round the World Race Web site at www.whitbread.org
Pub Date: 2/17/98