A month before Transat, competitors rammed by boat

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OCT. 11 — It was just another day out on the water for Italian co-skippers Giovanni Soldini and Pietro D’Ali as they were sailing Monday from France to Ireland to qualify for the 1,000 miles necessary to participate in the Transat Jacques Vabre race from France to Brazil Nov. 3 and 4, according to a news release on Italian Web source AGI News On.

However, at 3:30 a.m. the crew got a nasty surprise: a 164-foot Spanish fishing boat rammed into their 39-foot Class 40 monohull named Telecom Italia.

“We are well,” says Soldini on his blog. “I was outside at the rudder, but I did not see the fishing boat because it was not very well illuminated.”

The mast broke into four pieces and there was damage to the side, according to the news release. The boats were tangled together for about 10 minutes before the crew managed to free Telecom Italia.

At the time of impact, Soldini and D’Ali estimate they were sailing at about 10 to 12 knots with wind at 15 to 20 knots. The yacht was equipped with a radar reflector. The Telecom Italia managed to motor its way to make port Lorient, France, where it is undergoing repairs, according to the blog.

The Telecom Italia is a new boat that launched late September specifically for the Transat Jacques Vabre race, according to an article in Italy Magazine. It was built over the course of five months in order to be ready for the race in November. Soldini is known for winning the Around Alone solo race in 1999, and for rescuing his fellow competitor Isabelle Autissier, a French yachtswoman as they circled the globe.

— Elizabeth Ellis