Rescued sailor’s boat ‘broke in half’

Published on January 1st, 2014

While most of the planet was wrapping Christmas presents, concocting cocktails, or perhaps humming a holiday tune, singlehander Bernard Stamm and crew Damien Guillou of France were getting rescued from the storm-swept Atlantic when their Open 60 Cheminées Poujoulat broke up in 45-knot winds about 180 miles off Brest, France.

Stamm, who was delivering the boat back to France following the Transat Jacques Vabre, which started from Le Havre in November, has been explaining how the boat sank after the whole front half of the boat tore away.

“The sea was formed and regular, and we were prepared to deal with this gale. We were under storm jib and had four reefs in the mainsail. Everything was under control, the boat was doing 12-13 knots on surfs and behaving very well. I was at the chart table with my co-skipper Damien Guillou when, in a wave, we heard a huge crack: the yacht had broken in two.

“Damien immediately went on deck shouting ‘The mast has come down,’ but he immediately saw that it was the boat that was broken. The bow was at 45 degrees to the axis of the boat. I immediately closed the watertight bulkheads. Moments later, the mast fell and we set off the EPIRB because we had to leave the boat.”

What happened to Cheminées Poujoulat, which was launched in 2011, sounds like a catastrophic structural failure of his Juan Kouyoumdjian-designed boat around the area of maximum loading, where the canting keel, daggerboards and mast compression loads are carried.

Elaine Bunting of Yachting World files reports on December 24 and December 30 describing the incident.

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