Mast breakage hinders record attempt

Wednesday, March 3, 2010, 12:03

by Wilfred Sultana

Sebastian Ripard, 24, and Benji Borg, 20, who recently announced their common aspiration of going for Gold at the Olympics are following a tough three-year training programme which presently includes three hours of daily gym sessions and four days on the water; leaving no time for social life and having to put career on hold.

The two young sailors are also using their passion for sailing to show their solidarity towards those less fortunate in society by organising their very own fund-raising activity in aid of Inspire.

Sebastian and Benji, on their 49er Olympic class dinghy, speed off into the fascinating open sea. (Photo Kurt Arrigo)

In fact on Saturday 6th March, Sebastian and Benji planned to sail their 49er around Malta in a bid to break the current record, 4hrs 50mins, which is held by J125 type yacht Strait Dealer. For this record-breaking Round Malta Sail all the event’s organization expenses have been secured thus all the proceeds will go to charity. So far the young sailors have collected €2,100 but their target on this ‘Inspire mission’ is €5,000.

Yet last Sunday, the wind they enjoy and confront so much, proved the strongest while training in strong 25kts (miles per hour) westerly winds going for a lot of maneuvers and really pushing the boat and themselves quite hard. According to the young protagonists it was a moment where “Heart rate stood at 170 and with lungs and muscles burning”.

Here it is worth mentioning that the 49er, representing the height of technology, is regarded as the fastest dinghy class at the Olympics. It is a super light weight hull weighing only 75 kilos supporting a fully carbon mast under 10 kilos.

This class was chosen for the Olympics to represent the pinnacle of sailing in all areas. The 49er pushes technology to the maximum and demands the impossible from its sailors. Reaching an average speed of 15kts in 13kts of wind and boasting top speeds in the mid twenties this boat really pushes.

And on Sunday Seb and Benji were really pushing when all of a sudden they heard the rig snap. Here they quickly set to work at detaching the mast from the boat before it could do any damage to the boat itself. In the process they realized they were also quickly drifting out of Mellieha towards Sicily. Here they had no option but to dump the splintered rig in the sea, jump in the water and spend an hour swimming the boat back up into Mellieha.

Luckily neither of the boys got hurt and minimal damage happened to the boat itself. However a trip to London to buy and bring down a new £2,500 rig is necessary with the result that the planned Saturday record-breaking attempt has to be postponed.

However, the Charity Dinner in aid of Inspire planned for Saturday evening is still on.  This is being held at the Royal Malta Yacht Club in Ta’ Xbiex and tickets are available from Sebastian Ripard or Inspire.





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