Volvo Ocean Race can confirm that Dongfeng Race Team broke its mast early on Monday (GMT, March 30) but fortunately nobody has been injured and there is no immediate danger to the crew.
The incident happened 240 nautical miles west of Cape Horn at 0315 UTC on Monday, in the final hours of the night onboard Dongfeng.
The crew reported that the mast broke above the third spreader, the top section of the mast. They are not planning to continue racing on this leg and are heading towards Ushuaia, Argentina, under their own sail.
Reached via Inmarsat, a disappointed skipper Charles Caudrelier said: “I’m gutted. As you’ve seen from the position reports we have been, on purpose, backing off a bit, not attacking in any way.
“The mast broke without warning, in about 30 knots of wind. We are unable to sail safely on starboard tack, but we are able to make reasonable speed on port tack. We will head towards Ushuaia and assess our options for getting to Itajaí."
The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) is aware of the situation and is on standby to help if necessary.
We are in constant contact with Caudrelier and are establishing the full extent of the damage to ensure we give him the support he needs to deal with the situation.
We will give more information as it becomes available.
*Image credits: Volvo Ocean Race/Yann Riou