The hostile environment of the North Atlantic proves its strength again as a large tear in the mainsail forces Phil to face yet another challenge on board Imerys. To date there have been six race retirements out of only 25 entrants. Skippers across the Classes are experiencing similar conditions of leaks, torn sails, and electronic meltdowns. The challenge of The Transat bakerly really is a race of endurance and ingenuity as each skipper is tried and tested to overcome severe problems in brutal isolation.

The detriment of yesterday’s torn mainsail has been Phil’s biggest challenge to date. The event of sailing without a mainsail would result in many more days out at sea with dwindling supplies of food, fuel, and with no functioning desalinator on board, water. Unable to reef and hide the damage, Phil was faced with the risk of total sail destruction from top to bottom.

“Yesterday evening in very strong headwinds, I was in the process of putting the 3rd reef in the mainsail when it tore itself into two pieces near the top. This is very serious as you cannot go upwind without a mainsail, and New York lies some 500nm upwind of me.” Reported Phil.

After considerable time attempting various possibilities with what resources remained on board, Phil has found a solution. A temporary structural system integrated by rope. This has enabled the mainsail to be hoisted and used, bar the spectacularly large window.

“After some time spent with the boat stopped trying to repair the sail, I realised such an extensive repair wouldn’t be possible with the limited materials on board, so I have rigged up a temporary solution with rope instead that should hopefully get me to the finish line. It is not pretty or fast but it should get us there.” Reported Phil.

As Phil heads for a ‘calmer’ southerly route and accepts he can no longer match the speeds of an intact boat, he’ll be lowering his standards to a podium position.

“It is hugely disappointing to realise we can’t challenge for the lead anymore in this race, but based on the current advantage we have over the other boats there is still a good fight to try and be on the podium. Currently we are a lot slower than everyone else, but I’m right back in full racing mode still trying to get the last 0.1 knot out of the boat. It has been difficult to digest what has happened, but to finish on the podium would be amazing under the circumstances.

“Right, I’m off to bail some more water out of the boat – that’s a separate issue!” Reported Phil.