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Colman Dismasted in Vendée Globe

The young solo skipper Conrad Colman, after dismasting in the North Atlantic Ocean on February 10.

© Conrad Colman

The final miles of the Vendée Globe nonstop race dealt a brutal blow to Kiwi-American solo skipper Conrad Colman when his IMOCA 60 monohull Foresight Natural Energy dismasted Friday night. After 97 days and more than 26,500 miles racing around the world, with just over 700 miles to the finish line, Colman’s mast crashed down in 35-40 knots of wind and big, confused seas. He was 270 miles WNW of Lisbon, Portugal. Colman was dealing with a big, active Atlantic low-pressure system, a big hurdle before his final passage across the Bay of Biscay to Les Sables d’Olonne, France, where he was expected to finish in tenth place on Wednesday.

The tidied-up rig on the deck of Foresight Natural Energy.

© Conrad Colman

After cutting the mast, rigging and the mainsail free before they damaged the hull of his boat, the 33-year-old skipper managed to save the boom — which had suffered some damage — and his headsails. He planned to repair the boom then set up a jury rig using the boom as a mast and some of the sails he still has. But first he had to wait for the wind and seas to subside. Winds moderated today into the low 20s, but the seas are still chaotic.

The damaged boom, which will need to serve as a mast.

© Conrad Colman

After Armel Le Cléac’h and Alex Thomson finished the Vendée Globe on January 19 and 20, respectively, seven more solo sailors completed the race, leaving nine still working their way up the Atlantic Ocean. American Rich Wilson, 66, on Great American IV is currently at 30°N in 14th place.

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Over the weekend, docks in the Bay Area were bustling with activity, as we were blessed by two splendid, sunny days, after enduring weeks of almost nonstop rainstorms.