AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Published — Sunday 25 November 2012
Last update 25 November 2012 6:01 am
PARIS: Frenchman Vincent Riou, one of the favorites to win the solo, round-the-world Vendee Globe yacht race, may become the seventh skipper to pull out after colliding with a metallic bouy yesterday.
Riou won the 2004-2005 race but had to be saved by another skipper Jean Le Cam in 2008-2009 after running into trouble last time out in the four-yearly event.
“I heard the collision at 05h00, a huge cracking sound, and the boat is badly damaged with a 130cm rip down the right side, four or five meters from the stern,” explained Riou, who was uninjured in the accident.
“Right now no decision has been made, we’re just trying too analyze the situation to see if it’s possible to carry on,” he added.
“I’m not far off finding a way of mending it, but it could take time because of the heat (30C) and humidity, so it’s tricky,” he said.
The skipper also has problems with a mast support cable, which also looked tricky to fix.
“It’s a delicate situation because I’m a long way from land and any place I can take some shelter to carry out repairs.” “My priority is to find a way of making solid repairs and carrying on with the race in complete safety. I need to feel complete confidence in the boat before we go out into the South Sea,” explained the 40-year-old sailor.
He had been in third position this morning some 83.4 miles behind leader Armel Le Cléac’h, off the coast of Brazil.
If he pulls out he would be the seventh of 20 skippers to fall foul of the grueling, two-months-long solo round-the-world race.
Two weeks after leaving Les Sables d’Olonne, the race’s departure point on the west coast of France, 14 of the 18m single-hull vessels remain after Samantha Davies, Louis Burton, Marc Guillemot, Kito de Pavant, Jeremie Beyou and Zbigniew Gutkowski all pulled out.
Le Cléac’h leads the chase for one of sailing’s top prizes 52 nautical miles ahead of François Gabart and 74.7 ahead of Jean Pierre Dick.