Irina Gracheva: from the horse’s mouth – about the main

Finally the details! On the page Irina Gracheva Racing Mini-Transat 2019 “Facebook” Irina told about the causes of the crash and status of the boat at the moment:

Now I am in Martinique, delivered safe and sound catamaran Ti Ble. First and foremost I am very grateful to the team for the warm welcome, great moral support and warm atmosphere on Board.


Now the dry facts:

Transat was very heavy. The long wait start. Two cold front and 300 miles looked like in October Biscoe, strong winds along the Portuguese coast, delamination of the transom in the first stage. In the second phase : intensive start and the zone of acceleration along the Gran Canaria wind 20-25-30 all the time after the start, gusts under the clouds with gusts of 35-45 began to come to the middle of the road, although it was expected for 300 miles to the finish, squallo all the way.

My mast collapsed in the dark, on the 3rd day of squalls, November 11, around 7 am UTC. The night was calm at first, and I was able to relax a bit. The morning began again to come in the clouds, their outlines were visible, but not completely. In between the clouds, the wind fell as much as 12 knots. I carried a medium Spinnaker and it took, then gave reef the mainsail. I saw the outlines of the clouds, which was held from the Lee side, got a sunset and acceleration. Saw the cloud passing windward, but on the nose, got her the standard expected time and increased to 25. After everything calmed down. The squall came quickly and suddenly, by the force of 30 knots that the boat was able to successfully overcome the Uvala and corrode spin. Then came the heavy rain with an even bigger gain, where we went to bracing. Bracing – normal, in General, the case, and we waited lying imminent easing, the clouds were moving quickly with the gradient wind. None of the weaker nodes of the boat was not damaged – weathered sails, a bowsprit rested. At one point he heard the sound that you expect with anxiety in these moments, and the mast broke in two feet above the boom. Left to the finish 1170 miles.

Windward of ventures passed through the deck. Inside the boat pull ventures made in the form of 8 mm steel cable in the crimp and lanyard. The cable pulled out of the crimp. The cable itself was not damaged, the photo shows the line at which the test was passed. Was it possible to anticipate?

It took me about 5 hours for the release of sails and masts on the wave and under the squalls. The Board almost was not damaged and later I was able to place the mast along the side on three mounting points, the straps, which allowed me to safely manipulate and to completely disarm the mast. The grotto was torn during the manipulations a bit – to steal a huge grotto with a through armor with a corrupted likasa was incredibly difficult. I thought to raise the mast on Board, but it was difficult to make one, and pointless mini stuffed do not go on the masts.

The first ship of the escort came up when I cleaned out and gave it to the mast. Suggested the evacuation, which I refused, intending to set the alarm arms and fix the autopilot. The whole system of electronics NKE given a complete black-out after the crash.

Still a few hours left to detach the remnants of the mast, the installation of the boom in its place and the system setup files. The boom was 50 cm longer than the broken piece of mast, which gave the opportunity to set sail. I started with the storm headsail, but very quickly put in a corrugated Genoa. In the gusts was able to accelerate right up to 5 knots….but not towards the finish line. Placed alongside a large staysail strongly pulled in the drive. In any case, the task is to be on the move before nightfall was completed.

Terribly tired, the whole body burned and ached. After a terrible night immediately started to fix the autopilot. Managed to adjust the supply of electricity, but only one of the three displays, which told me that we have KZ on the data cable. Naturally, the impact of the mast, all the wires were neatly trimmed and insulated. The electric circuit is not affected in any appliances, lights, charge the batteries functioned normally. Beyond electronics NKE, which, in fact, was damaged only data cable of the wind sensor, which was also insulated. In General, I’ve tried all combinations on the three connecting boxes NKE, but to identify and eliminate the cable with a short circuit and failed. It took another whole day.

All the time I thought milage, speed, received the forecasts (for the next two days only) and was counting the days, food and risks. Realizing that the autopilot work there, and ahead of predicted changes in wind direction and decrease its speed, I asked for the nearest escort vessel. It was a catamaran Ti Ble 100 miles from me. One day I had to think to drift. On all aspects of my choices, thoughts and feelings I’ll tell you at the conference in St. Petersburg, which we will arrange at the earliest opportunity.

I was left stranded for almost 3 days when he came to the catamaran, and the final decision to leave the boat was very difficult. Very. Aspects of such a decision are many – from the goals and objectives of the project to risks and respect for the feelings of loved ones. I very carefully thought out and weighed. The rescue operation was performed on November 14 at about 4 a.m. UTC.

The boat was left afloat. As a rule, in such condition the boat reach the shore and can be taken by the owners or willing to take. Flood mini is almost impossible, and a half-submerged boat is very dangerous.

The Yellow Brick tracker was transferred to the regime of report every 6 hours to save battery. At the time of leaving the boat battery 80%.

Was installed an emergency VHF antenna on top of the mast emergency. AIS is left on to the boat was visible to passing ships. The sight turned out 1-1,5 miles. Solar panels are installed and connected on the solar Board. Fuel cell EFOY loaded a new cartridge. Everything is done for unlimited power and maintain AIS in operation.

Left on running lights and lights for better visibility at night.

At the moment the boat continues to drift at a distance of 800 miles in the area of sustainable trade winds toward the Caribbean Islands, is about 25 miles a day. To take action to rescue at the moment impossible.

Irina Gracheva

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