Transat Jacques Vabre: Back in the Saddle

Published on November 13th, 2013

Hannah Jenner and Rob Windsor are back in the Transat Jacques Vabre’s 5450 mile race from Le Havre, France to Itajaí, Brazil after an unscheduled pit stop in Lorient to repair a broken forestay.

(November 12, 2013) – It was on the fifth day of the race, at 21:54:35 Europe Standard Time (20:54:35 GMT, 15:54:35 Eastern Standard Time), Team 11th Hour rejoined the Transat Jacques Vabre after making an unscheduled pit stop in Lorient, France to repair their forestay that incurred a failed strop on November 11.. On land for just four hours, Team 11th Hour is now in pursuit of the rest of the fleet en route to Itajai, Brazil. Below is the first hand account of the breakage from Hannah Jenner and an update shortly after rejoining the race from Rob Windsor.

Hannah Jenner recounts the forestay breakage.
We had had a reasonable night sailing upwind into a breeze of 15-20 knots. Pretty much since Ushant we had been bouncing around in the residual sea state left by the storm that held us up in Roscoff. The boat felt good as she usually does on this point of sail. We were flying the solent with one reef in the main, fully stacked and ballasted aiming at Finisterre and inching closer to our downwind expressway to the sunshine.

But at 0945 UTC (on Nov. 11) not long after I had come on watch there was that dreaded loud bang. I have lost the rig on this boat before and although this bang was way more timid than the sound of the rig snapping, it was still unpleasant. As I turned to look towards the foredeck I watched the solent sail along with the forestay drop from the sky and come to rest a couple of feet under the water. I had seen this before but at least this tiime the rig was still standing. Before I had even finished calling his name Rob was on deck. We dropped the mainsail immediately and stood back to try to take in what had just happened.

Of course initially we felt a sense of relief that the mast was still upright but as we set to work to retrieve the sail from the water and stabalize the mast the sinking feeling of months of hard work gone right before your eyes swamped us and we woked on in silence. After assesing what we could by way of sighting the rig with binoculars we determined that if we could get to Lorient we may just be able to turn this around and get back into the race assuming that it is just a broken forestay strop. Thankfully we have an amazing team and network of friends and supporters so with communications flying back and forth between England, France and the USA we should have the parts we need waiting for us on the dock when we get in.

But there in itself lies a problem. We are running an environmentally concious campaign and had not planned on using any diesel fuel besides what is required to get on and off the dock. We left with 40 litres in our fuel tank and a back up 20 litres in a gerry can just in case we had hydrgenerator problems and no sunshine to fuel the solar panels. When the forestay broke we were 150 miles away from Lorient. Now in a car that would take us 2 hours, but out here we were looking at many more. We motored slowly all day, but fuel supplies got low, too low for us to be able to make it into port. Of course it was pitch black outside, but with a few alterations to our set up we hoisted the staysail and thankfully the one thing in our favor was that the breeze was coming from behind.

We are beyond gutted that while we sailed northeast the rest of the fleet head southwest. To get to the start of a TJV takes a monumental effort but we have not quit yet!! We are doing everythng we can to fix this situation and get back out on the race course. Maybe we can’t win anymore but stranger things have happened at sea. Rest assured we will never give up.

Rob Windsor checks in shortly after leaving Lorient and rejoining the race.
“After our forestay detached from our rig, we spent the better part of 30 hours getting to Lorient to try and fix the problem. When we arrived in Lorient we found three people waiting for us on the dock: Ryan Breymeier, a good friend and fellow American short-handed sailor, Yann Le Bretton, prepareteur who we met in Charleston this year at the Atlantic Cup and Yann’s girlfriend who’s name I didn’t catch. As soon as we got to the dock they hopped on board. Ryan had a dock cart full of bits to sort out all of our trouble; a mast jack to jack up the rig so we could fix the forestay problem, vacuum bag material to fix our leaky rudder post, and a bunch of rigging bits to put it all together. On top of all of that they brought 2 large pizzas.

It’s pretty awesome to be in another country, in a harbor you have never been in, pull in with a broken boat (and broken Rob but we will get to that in a minute), see two faces you know smiling at you telling it will all be OK and pull off the dock just 4 hours later with it all fixed. Ryan asked if I was OK because Hannah mentioned that I had hurt myself. So, sometimes I over do it. People that know me will laugh at that because maybe it’s more than sometimes. Anyway, I think I pulled something too hard and both my forearms were swollen and really painful. Anytime I pulled or grabbed something I was in a lot of pain and of course sailing is all about pulling and grabbing so nedless to say, I was suffering. Ryan told me he had spoken to a doctor at the hospital and that I could go to the Emerrgency Room and walk right in. He said there would be no wait and that the doctor would sort me out. I ws thinking no way. I was just in a hospital in France 2 weeks ago getting stitches in my finger and it took 4 hours for 3 stitches. Yann’s giirlfriend took me to the hospital, we walked in and the doctor took me in in less than a minute! They took some blood and spoke a lot of French words I didn’t understnd and told me I pulled tthe tendons in my hands and forearms. They gave me some pills and cream and a splint for one arm and we were out the door in an hour.

When I got back to the boat, all the work was done. All the tools were being put away and they were tossing us our lines. As I write this, I am smiling from ear to ear. We have worked so hard to get here. We will never give up. As of now we are back on the race course, going down wind at about 14 knots! With the help of some friends and some good sailing from us, we will be right bck in this race very soon. Thanks to everyone for your support.”

Follow Team 11th Hour’s progress on the course with the online race tracker HERE
For more news and information on Team 11th Hour Racing please visit their Facebook page and their Website. Print quality images of Team 11th Hour Racing can be found HERE

About Team 11th Hour Racing:
British sailor, Hannah Jenner was a member of the winning crew onboard Dorade in the 2013 Transpac and placed 3rd in the 2011 Transat Jacques Vabre. Long Island, New York native Rob Windsor placed 2nd in the 2011 Atlantic Cup and New York Yacht Club Trans-Atlantic Race. Both have seen the environment change dramatically in their relatively short sailing careers. They recognize that it is their responsibility as sailors to demonstrate good practices and protect the waters they race on so that future generations will be able to enjoy the oceans much like they have.

To build the awareness and raise the profile of environmental challenges within racing, Team 11th Hour Racing are taking on 11 winning solutions that will each contribute to and demonstrate one of the three tenets of their campaign: Cleaner, Faster and Better. At the conclusion of the 2013 race season Hannah and Rob will embark on a speaking tour to share their experiences and encourage the sailing community to embrace sailing Cleaner, Faster, Better.


Julianna Barbieri
Manuka Sports Event Management

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