With 40 Knots Closing Speed, Offshore Racing Trimaran Runs into Cargo Ship

sodebo ultim
Image (c) Sodebo Racing

Sodebo, a 31 meter carbon fiber offshore racing trimaran collided with a cargo ship in the English Channel at 23:30 last night, less than 24 hours from departing on the solo trans-Atlantic yacht race La Route du Rhum 2014.

The damage was significant, but surprisingly it wasn’t altogether catastrophic. The bow of the vessel in the central hull was torn off and the starboard float was heavily damaged, yet the mast remained upright and skipper Thomas Coville nursed her into the port of Roscoff.

“I have the feeling I hit a truck with a motorcycle,” commented Coville in a released statement.

sodebo ultim
Image (c) Sodebo Racing

Coville notes he had gone inside his boat to investigate an engine alarm and noticed he had two merchant vessels on his screen. Sodebo Ultim was sailing on autopilot at the time which was keeping a constant true wind angle on his sails, but not necessarily a constant course.

He was at 25 knots of boat speed and the ship was sailing at him at 18 knots. He notes that with the closing speed of 40 knots, he closed the distance in 1 minute 30 and before he knew it, he smacked the side of the ship near its aft quarter.

He wasn’t the only one to suffer bad luck today. On Monday morning at 10am local time, ship owner Alain Delhumeau, skipper of 50 foot trimaran Royan lost his rig a few miles west of Ushant. Winds were between 30 and 40 knots with steep 5 meter seas.