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Displaying items by tag: Velux Five Oceans

Skipper Christophe Bullens in the Velux Five Oceans race has been forced to head for port after his yacht Five Oceans of Smiles too was damaged in strong winds in the North Atlantic. The 49-year-old Belgian singlehander was sailing near to Fuerteventura, one of the Canary Islands, when his boat was knocked flat twice while travelling at 16 knots.

The mainsail on Five Oceans of Smiles too was ripped, three sail battens were broken and a runner - one of the wires that hold up the mast - was caught under the yacht's rudders. Christophe is now en route to Las Palmas on Gran Canaria where he will make repairs before setting sail again for Cape Town.

"Everything was going well, I was sailing at 16 knots and then voila, my boat was knocked flat twice," Christophe said this morning. "As I was approaching Fuerteventura the wind got strong and with the mountains it was very turbulent. The boat altered course and was knocked flat twice. The problem is that the mainsail was ripped, three battens were broken and a runner got caught under one of the rudders. I am still travelling at 10 knots but the seas are too big and there is too much wind so I have to stop."

He added: "I hope to set sail again tomorrow afternoon at the latest. The goal is really to arrive as quickly as possible in Cape Town to sort the boat out and be ready for the second leg."

It is the latest in a long line of problems for Christophe, whose original yacht Five Oceans of Smiles was dismasted just weeks for the start of the 30,000-mile round the world race as he was sailing to the start port of La Rochelle, France. Christophe managed to buy a new Eco 60 yacht, formerly Artech, a few days before the start of the race on October 17 and after crossing the start line with the rest of the fleet he returned to La Rochelle for five days to complete his preparations.

Since restarting he has been plagued with light winds and onboard problems including a fuel spill, a leaking hull and no electrics onboard Five Oceans of Smiles too to power his navigational instruments. Christophe is more than 2,000 nautical miles behind race leader Brad Van Liew, who is now off the eastern coast of Brazil being chased hard by Polish sailor Zbigniew Gutkowski.

The VELUX 5 OCEANS, run by Clipper Ventures PLC, is the longest running solo round the world race, and has 28 years of rich heritage as the BOC Challenge and then the Around Alone. This edition features five ocean sprints over nine months. After leaving from La Rochelle on October 17th the fleet now head to Cape Town, the race will then take in Wellington in New Zealand, Salvador in Brazil and Charleston in the US before returning back across the Atlantic to France.

Published in Offshore

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