Rudder Damage For DICK
GOLDING's dismasting follows a week where the British skipper had made phenomenal progress, climbing from fifth place on 9 December to take the lead in the early hours of this morning before disaster struck.
It has been a tough time for the boats at the front of the fleet. Yesterday afternoon, Jean-Pierre DICK (FRA), who had been leading the race onboard Paprec-Virbac, reported that he had suffered a high speed collision with a floating object and badly damaged the mechanism at the head of his rudder. The Nicois skipper has been forced to slow, deep reefing his mainsail to keep Paprec-Virbac flatter to maintain steerage with his port rudder as he climbs to pass the West Australian ice-security gate.
During yesterday evening's live radio broadcast, DICK said he will fight on and try to affect a repair, "I was sailing about 20 knots of speed when I hit an object in the sea which broke the 'fuse' of my rudder, but while the rudder cam up it destroyed the bearing at the top of the rudder, but also the connecting bar that enables the rudder to go up and down in its case. I am in a bad situation because I can only use the windward rudder which is a big problem when going downwind because I can only use a small area, only three reefs in the main, so I will wait for this big storm to go through. After the gate I will try to gybe and repair the rudder which will become the windward rudder. It is a really complicated repair but I think I can make it, I can make it happen. On the transom it is not going to be easy. I can do funny things on the boat and so I try to do this so I can continue this beautiful race," DICK said.
DICK confirmed this morning that his plan is to cross the ice security gate imminently and then slow to try and effect a repair to his damaged rudders.
The pace has been nothing short of electric since the leaders reached the Australia ice security gate. GOLDING had been averaging nearly 19 knots overnight before his dismasting, whilst Sébastien JOSSE (BT) recorded more than 450 miles in 24 hours, Jean LE CAM (FRA) more than 460 and this morning, DESJOYEAUX, the most northern boat, made 464.3 miles over 24 hours, which he exceeded at 466.6 miles to 05:50 UTC this morning averaging 19.4 knots.
As the 'second wave' group ascend NE to the ice gate, so a bigger gap has developed between fifth placed LE CAM (FRA) on VM Matériaux and Armel LE CLÉAC'H (FRA) on Brit Air in sixth. This tight packed posse who have raced closely for almost the entire race comprising LE CLÉAC'H, 2004 race winner Vincent RIOU (FRA) on PRB, Marc GUILLEMOT (FRA) on Safran and Yann ELIÈS (FRA) on Generali have together ceded more than 80 miles to the runaway leaders and are now between 250 and 360 miles behind.
Sam DAVIES (GBR) on Roxy slowed while she spent some time fighting from the stern of her Open 60 to remove a large amount of weed ff her keel.
Meanwhile a delicate and carefully executed operation re-floated Bernard STAMM's (SUI) stricken Cheminées Poujoulat early yesterday morning off Portes de Francais in the Kergulen Islands.
Both STAMM and his compatriot Dominique WAVRE (SUI) - skipper of Temenos II which was also forced to take refuge there to effect repairs - had to jump into Cheminée Poujoulat's liferaft at the last minute before the Open 60 was driven ashore in 45 knot winds late on Sunday night. They were taken ashore by Navy divers.
The refloating operation took three hours and involved manoeuvring with a truck, the supply vessel Marion Dufresnes of the Territorre Austral et Antartartic Francais and a team of divers.
"This morning it took us almost three hours to get the boat off with the help of the Marion Dufresnes and all the teams did a great job. Now the boat is afloat, but I don't think she can sail. We're waiting to see what Bernard STAMM wants to do. Yesterday evening, he was completely dispirited about leaving his boat. It really got to him. I think that after a night's sleep, which was very short and probably not very restful, he is feeling a little better this morning," said Frederic MARTINEAU of TAAF.
WAVRE notified Race HQ that he is taking weather advice and plans to leave the Kerguelen Islands for Australia possibly tomorrow.
Vendee Globe Leadeboard - 10:00 UTC 16 December 2008
1. Michel DESJOYEAUX (FRA), Foncia at 13772.2nm to finish
2. Roland JOURDAIN (FRA), Veolia Environnement, + 5.0nm
3. Jean-Pierre DICK (FRA), Paprec-Virbac 2 + 23.2nm
4. Seb JOSSE (FRA), BT + 34.0nm
5. Jean LE CAM (FRA), VM Matériaux + 47.5nm