When big things go boom

Published on June 10th, 2019

Prospector, the Mills 68 that was chasing the Annapolis-to-Newport Race record, was dismasted in the wee hours of Sunday morning on June 9.

After starting the biennial 475 nm race a day earlier, Prospector was sailing upwind in 20-25 knots of wind and pounding into eight-foot seas in the Atlantic Ocean when the rig failed around 3 a.m.

Annapolis resident Marty Roesch, one of four owners of the high-tech racing machine, said the headstay parted at the mast and the entire rig came down.

“The tang for the forestay sheared off for reasons we don’t know yet,” Roesch said. “We were pounding upwind in heavy air and high seas. There was 20,000 pounds of load on the backstay. When the forestay failed the backstay pulled the rig down.”

Roesch said the mast fell toward the stern and to leeward. Fortunately, all nine sailors on deck at the time were positioned to windward.

“Everybody was on the rail while the trimmer and helmsman were also on the high side so no one was in danger,” Roesch said.

Watch captain Paul McDowell called for all hands on deck and the entire 18-man crew set about sorting the situation. Roesch said the mainsail was too tangled up to be salvaged and had to be cut away. Also, the port side life lines were ripped away by the falling mast, spreaders and headstay. – Full story

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