Near 0500 UTC, while the boat was racing east in moderate northerly winds and sea state, the mast on Team Holcim-PRB came crashing down.
Skipper Kevin Escoffier had a message sent to Race Control that the crew was safe and again shortly afterwards that the boat was secure and no assistance was required.
“We were leading in with our fresh, new crew on Holcim-PRB. We had a mechanical failure and the mast came down,” Escoffier said. “That’s life. We are working now on a jury rig to go back to the harbour to be able to be back in the race as soon as possible. The team is working hard to find a solution.”
While this is a big blow to a team that has won 19 out of 20 possible points across the first three legs of The Ocean Race, the competitor in Kevin Escoffier is not giving up.
“If we are going to get to Newport, the start is on the 21 May, and if we can get there we will still be leading The Ocean Race, so we’re working hard to make that happen,” he said.
The Ocean Race 2022-23 – 27 April 2023, Leg 4 Day 4 onboard Team Holcim – PRB – photo © Georgia Schofield | polaRYSE / Holcim – PRB / The Ocean Race
The Holcim-PRB team is looking at all options, including whether it would be possible to get a spare mast to Brazil in time for the team to resume racing in Leg 4, thereby securing at least one point and rejoining the fleet in Newport in time for the transatlantic Leg.
If that proves logistically impossible with timing, other options could include shipping the boat and spare mast separately to Newport in time for Leg 5 (also very tight on time), or Aarhus for Leg 6.
All this will be decided in the coming hours – for now, the boat and crew are safe and the team has options to get back into The Ocean Race.
The Ocean Race 2022-23 – 26 April 2023, Leg 4 Day 3 onboard 11th Hour Racing Team. Charlie Enright fixing a small tear in the J2 while it’s high and dry – photo © Amory Ross / 11th Hour Racing / The Ocean Race
“Shocking news. Luckily no one is injured, but it’s an incredible shame. Kevin sailed such a strong race. We actually passed him on sight tonight, spoke briefly on VHF,” said Robert Stanjek on GUYOT envrionnement – Team Europe, no doubt sharing the sentiments of all the competitors. “We suffer with them, of course. You wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”
Elsewhere on the water, 11th Hour Racing Team has moved up one place to take the lead, with Team Malizia just 10 miles behind and Biotherm close as well. GUYOT envrionnement – Team Europe is 30 miles in arrears, but holding pace over the past 24 hours.
The Ocean Race 2022-23 – 26 April 2023, Leg 4 Day 3 onboard Biotherm. Skipper Paul Meilhat on the pedestal, holding the autopilot remote close by – photo © Anne Beauge / Biotherm / The Ocean Race
The fleet is breaking free of the exclusion zones which opens up some of the tactical options.
The Ocean Race 2022-23 – 26 April 2023, Leg 4 Day 3 onboard GUYOT environnement – Team Europe. A Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster) having a break onboard.The Ocean Race 2022-23 – 26 April 2023, Leg 4 onboard GUYOT environnement – Team Europe – photo © Gauthier Lebec / GUYOT environnement – Team Europe / The Ocean Race
The latest news is at www.theoceanrace.com and you can follow sailing’s greatest round-the-world challenge on Eurosport with every leg departure live and on-demand on www.discoveryplus.com or www.eurosport.com/sailing
The Ocean Race 2022-23 – 27 April 2023, Leg 4 Day 4 onboard Team Holcim – PRB.Deciding what to do next – photo © Georgia Schofield | polaRYSE / Holcim – PRB / The Ocean Race
Race tracker – The Ocean Race – photo © The Ocean Race
by The Ocean Race