03 January 2017 - 08:38 • 13977 views

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Yesterday evening, Alan Roura contacted his shore team to inform them that his starboard rudder had been damaged after a collision with an unidentified floating object, which also led to an ingress of water at the stern of the boat. This morning, the rudder has been replaced, the leak is under control and La Fabrique is back sailing again.

Alan was inside his boat at around 2230hrs UTC when he heard a thud, when the boat collided with a UFO. The young skipper immediately saw that his starboard rudder had broken and that the carbon rod holding it in place had snapped. This led to an ingress of water. Alan began by securing the boat and closing the flooded compartment.

Hove to and heeled over deliberately at 60° on the starboard tack to stem the ingress of water, Alan did what he could to stem the flow, but by then a large section of the boat had been flooded. There does not appear to be any major structural damage following the collision apart from the bearing on the rudder which ensures that the part is lined up correctly, so Alan was able to think about replacing his rudder.

Remaining calm and determined to solve the problem as quickly as possible, the 23-year old Swiss sailor set about doing that. Within two hours, the spare rudder was in place.

“The low arrived and the wind just kept on strengthening. There was about 30 knots, when the boat suddenly came to a standstill. I head a big bang, went outside and saw the starboard rudder floating behind the boat. It had obviously been hit by a UFO. I had to inspect the damage. Water started to rise around my feet and then calves. I soon understand that I needed to react quickly. I got the boat heeled over to stop the water from coming in. The wind was up to 40-45 knots with a 6m swell. I did what I could to stem the ingress, but it was impossible, with very heavy seas. Ten minutes later the stern section was flooded. I was gradually sinking. Water was getting in everywhere. The boat was very unstable so I lowered the mainsail with the J3 on the wrong side and the keel to leeward to get her right over. I needed to fit the spare rudder. I threw the rudder in the water and then pulled it up to slot it into its housing. After 30 minutes of a huge struggle with the desire to save my boat, I managed to get it in place."

"The water had created a real mess inside and covered all the bags. I don’t have any dry clothes. Everything is soaked. Fortunately the bag with the spare computer was dry, as the onboard computer didn’t like the 50cm of water in the boat. My race against the others is over. I need o take the time to carry out repairs to bring my boat home safely to Les Sables d’Olonne. I’m not giving up. If I managed to get the ruder in place in such conditions, I should be capable of making it all the way around. The weather is not going to help me in the next couple of days. I’m trying to stay north to get the lighter winds as soon as possible. If I can’t manage to carry out repairs there, I’ll shelter near the Horn before climbing back up the Atlantic.”