Dear Jessica and Gabriella, Once when I was young and racing, I sailed in front of another boat that had the right of way, and we had a collision. I was clearly not paying enough attention to the boats around me. That was my fault. For Vendée Globe 2008, we had a different boat, Great American III. She was a 2000 generation, Bernard Nivelt designed, Thierry Dubois built and raced, Open 60. I sailed her back from France to the US solo to find out what I might like to change, if anything. On the fifth night, at 55 degrees North, we had a collision with a submerged object at about 0100, the dark of night. We were sailing at about 12 knots, downwind, and we hit 3 times, slowing the boat to 8 knots, then 4 knots, then 0 knots. We hit on the bow, fracturing the bow, then the center line daggerboard was sheared off, then one of the 2 rudders was sheared off. The keel was OK. I was able to cant the keel to the maximum, which heeled the boat to windward (I also took down the mainsail in a rush) and that put the windward rudder that was ok back in the water. So the autopilot could steer. I had a spare rudder on board. I had never changed a rudder, but I had to figure it out promptly. 14 hours later, I had changed the rudder and we were able to continue. The daggerboard collision opened a hole in the hull, but fortunately it was inside our only ballast tank, so the water that came in could be sucked out by our normal method for filling or emptying that tank. We arrived safely in Portland, Maine about 2 weeks later. It was very scary.
Question submitted by Jessica and Gabriella, West Newbury MA, USA