Open 50 pushed past 90 degrees by huge wave

Mike Perham, the British teenager who is attempting to become the youngest person to sail around the world, has described how his Open 50 was knocked down in a 50-knot squall on Thursday.

He writes: ‘The night brought with it some strong conditions but I’d set the boat up really well and was totally shipshape. I spent most of the time inside, as that was the safest place to be in these conditions.

During the night we were moving along just fine and I was sitting at the chart table doing some work when a freak wave picked up and knocked us down – past 90degrees!

I had to brace my feet on the ceiling and watch my world literally turn on its side. As quick as we went over, the keel and the ballast brought me smartly back upright. sailed on as if nothing had happened, showing what a truly remarkable and safe boat she is.

One of my 20l diesel tanks had sprung a leak and oil covered the floor turning it into an ice rink. So much for my nice and tidy cabin!’

The boat’s lazyjacks became tangled with the main halyard during the knockdown – so Mike had to climb the mast to sort out the problem, deep in the Southern Ocean.

He writes: ‘The broken bits of the lazy jacks had gotten wrapped around the main halyard which was really impairing’s sailing ability – just having a fourth reef up is a tiny, tiny amount of sail area – brilliant for 55knots of wind but not so great in 18knots.

Time to climb the mast. Once at the middle of the halyard I was really getting chucked about a fair bit as the sea was still quite lumpy and it slammed me up against the mast. I was wearing near full-body padding and protection – this helped enormously!’

Mike Perham’s website

Image Mike Perham