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8 January 2009, 09:44 am
PRB Dismasted And Under Tow To Port Williams, Whilst Duel Develops At Front Of Vendée Fleet
Michel DESJOYEAUX onboard Foncia
Michel DESJOYEAUX's lead is coming under threat from Roland JOURDAIN

PRB was dismasted just 24 hours after skipper Vincent RIOU rescued Jean LE CAM from his capsized VM Matériaux, whilst at the front of the race the two leaders are setting their strategies for the race up the Atlantic.
At 01:45 UTC this morning the Chilean Navy patrol vessel Alacalufe took PRB under tow after the fourth placed Open 60 dismasted last night only eight miles after the Cape Horn light.

At the front of the fleet Roland JOURDAIN (FRA) on Veolia Environnement and leader Michel DESJOYEAUX (FRA) on Foncia are now separated by over 250 miles west to east and JOURDAIN is now effectively further north, but still computed to be second by 105 miles.

PRB Under Tow

According to the Chilean Navy, PRB was taken under tow at around 01:45 UTC early this morning and is making about 10 knots towards Port Williams, home of the 33m patrol vessel Alacalufe which attended to Vincent RIOU (FRA) and Jean LE CAM (FRA) last night after PRB's compromised rig gave up in 25 knots of breeze someeight miles NW of the Cape Horn light.

The duo had been joking only hours earlier about making Vendée Globe history as the first ever duo to pass Cape Horn on the same boat, when they believe the temporary lashing which they had put in place to support the broken port outrigger gave way and the mast tumbled over the side. RIOU has not been able to start his engine for some time, and due to their proximity to the islands, there was insufficient time to set a jury rig, although they have retained the boom.

Making around 10 knots under tow, PRB is due to reach Port Williams at around 08:45 UTC this morning.

Battle For First

At the front of the race, second-place JOURDAIN seems to be well placed to challenge DESJOYEAUX, based around the distance to finish calculated using the theoretical route. Two hundred and fifty miles further west, the skipper of Veolia Environnement is already 20 miles further north than the current leader. The two are not tackling the small low-pressure systems off the coast of Argentina in the same way and with a lead of only 100 miles the position of DESJOYEAUX does look tenable, racing in 20-25 knots of SW'ly winds. The fight is on and there will be plenty of opportunities for tactical plays with major upsets possible.

Armel LE CLÉAC'H (FRA) on Brit Air is experiencing much quieter weather and is heading due north at 12-15 knots after rounding the islands off the tip of Patagonia.

Sam DAVIES (GBR) on Roxy, who can expect to be promoted to fourth place when PRB's expected retirement is announced, has had to replace her boom vang overnight, and is making steady progress again now with Cape Horn 1,000 miles ahead of her now. She is taking a southerly route, only 100 miles north of a set of well tracked icebergs. Behind her Marc GUILLEMOT (FRA) onboard Safran has a deficit of about 390 miles but has indicated again that he is minded to stop again to repair his mast track. In effect he has a net 50 hours of time compensation over DAVIES to be subtracted and may spend some of that trying to be repair his mainsail luff track for the climb up the Atlantic.

For once the Pacific is peaceful too. Brian THOMPSON (GBR) on Bahrain Team Pindar is making a steady 9-10 knots and was about 130 miles from the SE Pacific gate, the final one, at 04:00 UTC this morning.

Onboard Aviva, Dee CAFFARI (GBR) is back up to speed this morning in better breeze but has lost out to Arnaud BOISSIÈRES (FRA) on Akenas Veranda overnight who is 28 miles ahead. Steve WHITE (GBR) on Toe in the Water struggles to escape the clutches of a high and this morning was only advancing at 1.5 knots but had reported again that he will be taking opportunities presented to work on the re-calibration of his auto-pilots.

At the trailing edge of the fleet, Raphaël DINELLI (FRA) on Fondation Océan Vital is also stuck in light airs off Stewart Island as is Norbert SEDLACK (AUT) sailing Nauticsport-Kapsch, who can look forward to a quiet day, giving him time to give his boat a thorough inspection, but will scarcely reflect on the fact that leader DESJOYEAUX is now this morning closer to the finish in Les Sables d'Olonne than they are to him.

Vendee Globe Leaderboard - 04:00 UTC 8 January 2009

1. Michel DESJOYEAUX (FRA), Foncia at 6126.8 miles
2. Roland JOURDAIN (FRA), Veolia Environnement at + 104.7 miles
3. Armel LE CLÉAC'H (FRA), Brit Air + 720.5 miles
4. Vincent RIOU (FRA), PRB + 865.5 miles (no abandon received yet, but under tow)
5. Sam DAVIES (GBR), Roxy at + 1895.3 miles

Click here for all the news on the Vendée Globe.

Véronique Teurlay (As Amended By ISAF)
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