#VOLVO OCEAN RACE - Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's challenge was nearly scuppered at the outset when their yacht suffered a broken mast just hours into the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race yesterday. Dismast photos by Paul Todd below.
The accident occurred 30 nautical miles south of Cartagena on the Spanish Mediterranean, when the yacht Azzam encountered rough weather some six hours after leaving Alicante.
"Our mast broke into three pieces when landing off a big wave in 30+ knots of wind," said skipper Ian Walker. "We were sailing under a J4 and two reefs. We do not as yet know the cause."
A first leg disaster for Ian Walker on Abu Dhabi - Photo: Paul Todd
The broken mast pieces and rig were recovered, thanks to the "courageous" intervention of crewman Wade Morgan, who entered the water to cut away the top of the mainsail.
Walker added: “The mast from the first spreader up is now secured to the port side of the boat. About three or four metres protrude from behind the boat. A spider web of lines is keeping the operation intact. The crew are deeply disappointed.”
Yacht and crew - which includes Wexford man Justin Slattery - were last night headed towards the flatter water at Cabo de Palos before returning to Alicante under motor to begin repairs and get back in the race.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing are one of six teams competing in the epic round-the-world yacht race, which is set to finish in Galway next July.
Earlier this week the team finished first in the initial in-port race of the competition.
The official Volvo Ocean Race website has more on the story HERE.