Sea, Sail & Surf

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Open 50

Alex Abandons his Open 50 but not his Dream

samedi 15 décembre 2001

image 300 x 158Alex Bennet has won the Transat Jacques Vabre in class 2. Photo :
14th December 2001, 29 26 09’ N 26 03 49’ W : At 23.00 GMT Alex Bennett, 25-year-old solo yachtsman, abandoned his Open 50 racing yacht ‘One Dream One Mission’ to the elements.

At 20.00 without any warning a sudden squall hit the boat and in a breeze of 20 to 30 knots she heeled over and accelerated to 16 knots in the pitch dark.

Alex : "Then I heard a huge bang. I thought we’d snapped the keel and as the boat pitched up at a crazy angle, I climbed up onto the highest side. With all hell breaking loose, I released as many sails as I could and she came upright again. I winched in the genoa and looked over board. The bulb was OK – it was the starboard ram and the keel was left swingly wildly".

Alex attempted to fix the damage by lashing the rod heads in place to lock the keel, but after two hours of trying and physically exhausted he put out an urgency call. A German freighter 10 miles off responded and made for Alex. With his boat crippled and the threat of gale force conditions coming through his area within the next 36 hours, he was forced to take the sad decision to abandon his beloved boat.

This was just three weeks after he had tasted victory in his first international race, the 4340 mile Transat Jacques Vabre Transat Jacques Vabre #TJV2015 from Le Havre to Brazil, with co-skipper Paul Larsen. Five days after his win he set sail alone for home to train for the rigours of solo ocean racing and his ultimate goal the Vendée Globe in 2004. He had covered over 2/3 of the distance home when disaster struck.

He is now heading for Trinidad with the German freighter, EWL Central America and is expected to fly home on 21st December.

PR Judith Hunt

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