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Damaged cat fails record attempt

Jan 1, 2003

Yet another extreme cat slated for entrance in The Race suffered a hull fracture, this time during a transatlantic record attempt. The 110-foot Maxi cat Club Med, commanded by Kiwi sailor Grant Dalton, was 600 miles off New York, underway for the Lizard off England, when a "sacrificial" section of the port bow was torn off.

The vessel was making 25 knots on a 115° angle from the wind in conditions that were described as "rough" but "not dangerous," which included 25- to 30-knot winds. Club Med, which was flying a staysail and had two reefs in the main, buried its bows into a wave at 1700 July 31 and the "crash box," a diagonal section of hull, was lost, according to Club Med officials. The vessel never lost stability or took on water, since the damaged area was sealed off with watertight bulkheads.

Club Med limped into port and was being scrutinized by naval architect Yann Perfornis of the Gilles Ollier Design Team for cause of the failure at press time. The vessel set the most recent 24-hour record run of 625 miles, for an average of 26.07 knots, during its record run east-west across the Atlantic (Cadíz to San Salvador) in June. When its bow broke off, Club Med was attempting to break the west-east transatlantic record of Jet Services V, a catamaran that made the run in six days, 13 hours, three minutes in 1990.

Club Med was ignominiously shipped via containership to the Multiplast yard in Vannes, France, for repairs. It was expected to be back in service in late September for further trials and training off Portugal.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, the other cat to lose a bow section was repaired this summer. Team Philips, the 120-foot cat skippered by Briton Pete Goss, lost a section of its bow off England during sea trials this summer and was expected to be relaunched in late September from the Goss yard in Devon, U.K.

Steve Fossett, aboard his monster cat PlayStation, also attempted the west-east transatlantic record this summer, but weather conditions proved less than spectacular and the attempt failed. He was hoping for a five-and-a-half-day crossing; PlayStation was 124 miles off the Lizard August 30 at the time they should have been crossing the finish line. In the past 10 years there have reportedly been 21 serious attempts made at this record.

The Race, founded by one of Club Med's two skippers, Bruno Peyron, starts in Barcelona at midnight December 31.