Advertisement

Broken mast forces sailboat competing in global race to dock in Halifax

Team Europe's sailboat is shown docked in Halifax on Sunday after being damaged in the fourth leg of a global ocean race.  (Jeorge Sadi/CBC - image credit)
Team Europe's sailboat is shown docked in Halifax on Sunday after being damaged in the fourth leg of a global ocean race. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC - image credit)

A sailboat competing in a race around the world is docked in Halifax after running into major trouble in the Atlantic Ocean.

Team Europe was finishing the fourth leg of the Ocean Race between Itajai, Brazil and Newport, R.I., when it hit a 50-knot storm that broke the mast.

"We hit a couple of bad waves and on the second wave I heard a sort of explosion, popping sound," said Annie Lush, a crew member and Olympic sailor.

"I hoped it wasn't what I thought it was, but coming on deck I could see the boom lying on the deck and the mast was in the ocean."

The crew had to urgently try to remove the mast in the middle of the night before it caused more damage, Lush said.

"Obviously demasting is an issue, but having a hole on the side of your boat in the middle of the North Atlantic storm is a much bigger dangerous issue," she said.

Jeorge Sadi/CBC
Jeorge Sadi/CBC

The next challenge, Lush said, was figuring out where to go and how to get there.

She said the crew was able to build a smaller sail, but they were low on food and fuel because they were near the end of that leg of the race.

Team Europe was able to find enough fuel from another boat, but Lush said it took them six days to travel more than 500 kilometres to shore.

"Halifax has kind of been our saviour," she said. "It was the closest point of land. It wasn't upwind and it was much easier for us to get to than Newport."

The team's sailboat was towed into the harbour on Saturday after most of the team members had already arrived in Nova Scotia soil.

While there are four or five crew members on the boat during the race, most of the team travels separately.

Lush said it was an emotional moment when the entire team was reunited in Halifax.

Jeorge Sadi/CBC
Jeorge Sadi/CBC

"This was obviously very sad for our team," she said. "We also didn't complete Leg 3, which was the Southern Ocean leg, because we had big structural damage to the boat.

"There was a big rallying in the team to get us ready to do this fourth leg and, so, this is a big disappointment."

The Ocean Race happens every three or four years. There are five teams competing in the global race this year that has eight legs over six months.

Team Europe will put its boat on a cargo ship on Thursday and it will be taken back overseas for repairs, Lush said.

She said they won't be able to make the next leg but they hope to get back into the race.

It's been a challenging time for the team, Lush said, but the hospitality in Halifax has made it all a bit easier.

"We can't believe how welcoming the Canadians have been," she said.

MORE TOP STORIES