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Irish sailor limping towards NZ

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5/01/2017

An Irish sailor competing in a solo round-the-world race is now limping towards Dunedin after his mast snapped in heavy winds.

Race organisers said on Wednesday evening, they expected a tug to meet Enda O'Coineen , in his 60s, and tow his yacht, the Kilcullen Voyager - Team Ireland, to safety.

O'Coineen had been running in 15th place in the Vendee Globe endurance race when his rig broke in 35 knot winds, 180 nautical miles, or about 333km, southeast of Dunedin.

With the heavy squall continuing to beat his yacht, his mast then snapped, forcing O'Coineen to cut the rig free.

"The boat was out of control and I was caught without the runner properly on and the mast snapped," he said.

"I am mastless, the deck was holed. It is not a happy situation but there it is."

O'Coineen had been 57 days into the race after setting off from France on November 6.

"Having got this far, I felt we could handle anything," he said.

"There was just that little malfunction of the self-steering that set a whole train in motion (leading to the mast snapping)."

O'Coineen's accident comes two weeks after another competitor also limped to safety in New Zealand when his yacht was badly damaged in a collision with a mystery object in the Tasman Sea.

Frenchman Thomas Ruyant, the skipper of 18m Le Souffle du Nord, thought he would lose his boat to flooding after the accident happened about 260nm off the South Island.

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