Belgian racer determined to still compete

One of the men due to take part in the Velux 5 Oceans race has suffered a massive blow to his hopes, just days before the race’s start.

Belgian Christophe Bullens, 49, was dismasted this morning en route to the start port of La Rochelle.

The incident occured 15 miles off the Normandy coast on his Eco 60, Five Oceans of Smiles, ahead of the race’s start on October 17.

There were four crew members on board in 18-knot winds and choppy seas.

Two crew were on deck at the time, but Bullens was not.

He heard a snapping noise, believed to be a shroud breaking, before coming on deck to see the mast break in two places.

The sails and rigging ended up under the boat, blocking the propeller and forcing a rescue boat to come to the crew’s aid and tow them to Cherbourg.

The dismasting caused damage to the starboard side of the boat, including a hole by the ballast tanks, and the sails are beyond repair, but Bullens insists that this does not mean his participation in the 30,000-mile solo ocean race is over.

He said: ‘Nothing is finished. I will do everything to be on the startline in La Rochelle on October 17.’

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