I went to Svendsen's Boat Works of Alamada, California to have their riggers look at my standing rigging prior to my intended voyage to Panama just this last February. Their Rigging foreman, Chris Tibbe, took a quick look around and stated flatly that I should replace all of my standing rigging, add an additional stay that had been removed some time ago, and remove a pair of 1/4" shrouds that he claimed were extraneous.
$10,000 dollars later, I was ready to set sail for Panama. Well, not 10 hours of actual sailing later, while on a close hauled starboard tack, about 12 miles out from the Golden Gate, making betwen 6 and 8 knotts in then 15-20kt. winds and 9'-12' seas, a loud "pop" was heard immediately followed by my 9 year old carbon fiber mast breaking about 12'-14' off the deck and falling directly to port. Boat speed immediately dropped and we were foundering. Within minutes the mast broke again just above the gooseneck. The next 30 minutes were spent freeing the rig by pulling all of the pins at deck level before the mast and rigging managed to hole us and send us to the bottom. We tried to hold on to the rig by the backstay after everything else was in the water and we were relatively certain the rudder and prop were free of any obstruction. I started the motor and tried in vain to hault our drift, already over two miles towords the rocky coastline. The acrid stench of burning belts was smelled immediately. Rather then risk loosing the engine as well, the decision was made to let the whole rig go, mast, sails, furler, electronics, stays, and shrouds, all gone to the bottom of the Pacific.
San Francisco/Golden Gate Coast Guard came out, checked on us to be sure we weren't taking on water and maintained radio contact until we could limp back to Svendsen's rig shop. At the end of the day, Chris came out to look at what was left and in minutes time declared that whoever had installed the carbon mast 9 years ago, KKMI, had done so improperly and that this was the cause of the catastrophic failure we had experienced. He would however be happy to quote me on a new mast, rigging, furler, etc....
Coincidence? Never met one. In fact, every rigger, sailor, engineer, naval architect, swabbie, etc., says the same thing: Rigging failure. Now it's for a Judge( and Jury?) to decide. Meenwhile, my crew had to go, I'm paying dockage, no work, my job in Panama slipped away, and Svendsen tells me that they will sue me for defaming them! What? I'm merely stating the facts here. You be the judge.