Thiercelin limps to Falklands as storm nears yachts in Alone

February 27, 1999|By Peter Baker

While French sailor Marc Thiercelin limped toward Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands yesterday, several other competitors in the Around Alone sailing race battled high winds and stormy seas as they closed on Cape Horn.

Thiercelin, the leader in class I until his 60-footer Somewhere was dismasted Thursday morning, was reported about 150 miles from Port Stanley yesterday afternoon and making only 1 knot, presumably under a jury rig.

Class II leader J. P. Mouligne (Cray Valley) and second-place Mike Garside (Magellan Alpha) have experienced squally weather but have yet to be hit by the heart of a storm that weather forecasters say is the worst of the race so far.

Brad Van Liew, third place in Class II with Balance Bar, wrote in an e-mail yesterday he had "60-plus knot winds from the northeast overcast with rain and the seas are a mess no main up and trying to do one thing only: Keep the mast in the boat and above the keel."

A French news agency yesterday reported Thiercelin lost his rig when the top half of Somewhere's mast broke in two places above the deck. Earlier reports indicated the mast had jumped from its step on deck.

Giovanni Soldini, the Italian skipper who rescued Isabelle Autissier of France from her sinking yacht last week, was reported less than 800 miles from the finish line in Punta del Este, Uruguay, last evening.

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