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Dramatic VOR Mast Footage As Dongfeng Attempt to Stabilise Broken Mast

31st March 2015
Dramatic VOR Mast Footage As Dongfeng Attempt to Stabilise Broken Mast

#vor – New dramatic footage of Damian Foxall's stricken Volvo Ocean Race men on the dismasted Dongfeng has emerged with crew man Kevin Escoffier up the mast cutting away the damage as the crew make the necessary sacrifices to stabilise the situation working to secure the mast before entering the Beagle Channel. There's frustration in the Southern Ocean for the Chinese team as Escoffier breaks his grinder while cutting the sail free and as darkness falls it's a race against time for the determined men of Dongfeng.

For the professional offshore sailors of the world, mast breakages (or any sort of damage to the boat) is an unfortunate occupational hazard. That's not to downplay the devastation and disappointment of what happened but for sailors like Damian Foxall, Charles Caudrelier, Martin Strömberg and even Pascal Bidégorry, dismasting in the Southern Ocean is an unfortunate case of déjà vu. These men have been there and done that.

For our rookie Chinese sailors on the other hand, the experience has been shocking, scary and bewildering. The reaction of Liu Xue (Black) is understandably in contrast to the pro crew who know how to manage these kinds of situations. Seen through his eyes, it is a heart wrenching reaction...

Liu Xue (Black): "Speechless, really speechless, I still can't believe this is true. You know one day, only one day we will have passed Cape Horn. Just one step and my dream will have come true, what a shame!"

"I thought a lot when the accident happened. What I wanted to do the most is to let my family to know that I'm safe. Because as the race is going and with more and more media coverage going out, my family started to know more about this leg. My mom was concerned about my safety a lot at some point. Actually there's nothing special, I know that I wouldn't be able to speak with them, I just would like them to know that I'm all good, that's it.

"I was sleeping below when the accident happened, I was shocked when I came on the deck. I have the feeling all the time that this is like in a movie. The 'scenes' of this leg is been played quickly in my brain. I'm not reconciled at all – the team worked closely and we fought so hard. And it's all gone in no time. Nothing left. We were only 240nm and 10 hours away from realising the dream.

"In this short 10 minutes, my dream has been crushed. We've been through so many suffering days before, we fought so hard just for this.

"Our skipper is surprisingly calm this time. He's too calm, we don't even have the feeling that he's just been through such frustration. Probably it's because he has his old mates Pascal, Damian and Martin onboard, and (their presence) gives him energy.

"The presence of Damian is the key of solving this problem. Because he's there, we were not in a panic. His makes us feel confident.

"Pascal is like a kind father this time. He came and touched Wolf's head and my head, comforting us 'it's going to be ok, we still have chance and time'. He even made a joke with me. He told me when he attempted to sail around the Cape Horn 14 years ago, the mast was also broken, and it took them 22 days to reach the Cape Horn after the damage happened, so we are actually lucky this time.

"Everyone's reaction after what happened made me feel warm and touched. Actually I didn't cry, I was just sad. But I wouldn't feel ashamed even if I cry, because the journey of this leg is marvellous. We are learning something new about the ocean every day, we respect the ocean, and also looking forward for the next challenge.

At the beginning of this project, managing expectations of our Chinese sponsors was key. This is ocean racing, something will happen, we have some very inexperienced sailors onboard we must take precautions. Then naturally when something like this happens, telling our partners is not easy. But the support from our partners has been outstanding and demonstrates their appreciation of what taking on the Volvo Ocean Race really means.

"We are sad to know the failure of the mast but happy to know all the team are safe. Please let Charles and his team know we are always with them, safety first, then try to repair the boat and get ready for next fighting!" Gary Huang, Vice President of Dongfeng Trucks.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race Team

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