The Atlantic Ocean has been slowly claiming her share of the Transat Bakerly fleet. There have been several retirements due to gear failure and even one nasty head wound requiring medical evacuation! The Transat race is particularly difficult as the sailors have to fight their way into the prevailing winds and swells which can get pretty huge at times!
Sadly, yesterday saw Loïck Peyron (one competitor who inspired us) turning around and heading back to France after part of his rigging failed whilst beating to windward in the harsh Atlantic swells.
Loïck has been beating to windward pretty much since he left Plymouth. Beating is how a ship makes progress directly into the wind (upwind). No sailing vessel can move directly upwind (though that may be the desired direction). Beating allows the vessel to advance indirectly upwind via zig-zagging.
The act of beating upwind takes its toll on equipment more so than any other point of sail, the boat will be dropping off the waves and the loads on the wire rigging are huge and dynamic.
Loïck’s boat Pen Duick II is a 44ft purpose-built, light displacement ketch and she was built simply in plywood in 1964!
Chainplate and staysail damaged, no big problem but impossible to continue upwind. I'm enroute to Quiberon and the ENVSN - École Nationale de Voile et des Sports Nautiques
Loïck is planning to sail the yacht back to ENVSN, where Pen Duick II has been owned and used as part of a sailing school for nearly 50 years. All being well he should be there in around ten days.
It must be a massive blow to Loïck and I can’t help but look at the parallels to our own rigging woes. I can certainly share Loïck’s pain in having to withdraw from the race. In 2013 we discovered our own rigging needed to be replaced and had to stop operations; I suppose figuratively, had to turn around ourselves.
52 years ago Pen Duick II & Eric Tabarly inspired a generation of French sailors when they won the OSTAR. Tabarly’s first ever solo Atlantic race ignited a passion for solo ocean racing in France that persists extremely strongly today. Since that race Pen Duick II has been inspiring amateur French sailors to set out on their own voyages!
Similar to Pen Duick II, Helen Mary R was commissioned in April 1986 and she has taken over 5000 young people sailing offshore and sailed over 100,000miles! When you think that sail training has the capacity to give young people profound life changing experiences; there will be at least 25% of that 5000 that would not be where they are today without Helen Mary R!
Loïck has ten days to reflect on what a fantastic voyage he has undertaken and at least for me; how much he has inspired people. By undertaking the voyage as a homage to Eric Tabarly and sailing and navigating as they did back in 1964. With just a sextant, paper, pencils & stars! I am sure he is planning on how to get this iconic sail boat sailing again, just like we have been doing over the last two years.
We’ll be watching Loïck closely and following his sail back to France whilst we work to get Helen Mary R sailing again. Financially we still have a way to go and are looking for businesses who may like to sponsor Plymouth’s Tall Ship and have also launched a Crowdfunding campaign to try and raise the final funds required to #RaiseTheRig. Please have a look at our campaign and if you can pledge to support our work; or more valuably perhaps share the campaign with your contacts and friends.
Thanks for inspiring me Loïck!