French yachtsman Philippe Péché has been forced to head to Cape Town with steering problems. He is now in the Chichester class

Since the start of the Golden Globe Race, French offshore racer Philippe Péché has jostling for the top spot at the head of the fleet, leading for the majority of the time.

Now he is heading to Cape Town, frustrated by steering problems which have left him out of the main race and relegated to the Chichester Class.

The La Trinité Sur Mer professional sailor began experiencing difficulties earlier last week when the actuating arm on his Beaufort wind vane self steering system sheered off.

Attempts to repair the wind vane with spare tube for his special telescopic tiller failed, and when the tiller then snapped in 45-50knot winds experienced at the end of last week, he had nothing left to repair it with.

The 57-year-old, who was a strong favourite to win the Golden Globe Race, was forced to ring Race HQ before contacting his partner for assistance – a move that has now placed him in the Chichester Class.

Race chairman, Don McIntyre, said that if Philippe Péché decides to stop in Cape Town, it will be the end of the Frenchman’s Golden Globe dream.

Jean-Luc Van Den Heede

Philippe Péché’s misfortune means Jean-Luc Van Den Heede is now in first place. Credit: Christophe Favreau/PPL/GGR

‘The situation is that Philippe is now in the Chichester Class as if he had made one stop. So if he now pulls in to Cape Town that would be a second infringement and he would be out of the race altogether,’ explained McIntyre.

‘He can apply for a time penalty for the phone call (As Istvan Kopar did after stopping in the Cape Verde Islands two weeks ago) and we will reconsider that, because as far as we can ascertain, he did not receive any materiel assistance other than psychological support. If successful, this would reinstate him in the GGR, and allow him to continue in the Chichester Class after he stops in Cape Town, said the race chairman.

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It is expected to take Philippe Péché up to 17 days to reach the South African port city.

Jean-Jacques Laurent from Péché’s sponsors PRB added: ‘Philippe has had a remarkable race since the start from Les Sables d’Olonne. We knew that this Golden Globe Race would be particularly difficult. It’s an extreme race.’

‘Philippe makes his choices as a good sailor. Our priority is that he arrives in Cape Town in good health and that he can repair PRB. We know how important this race is to him and he has all our support to start again in the Chichester class,’ added Laurent.

Meanwhile, former Vendée Globe competitor, fellow Frenchman, Jean-Luc Van Den Heede is now leading the race in his Rustler 36 Matmut.

He is some 575 miles ahead of second placed Mark Slats. The Dutchman has chosen to take his Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick on the longer westerly Trade wind route.

British GGR entrant Susie Goodall takes a selfie on deck

Susie Goodall has now found fresh wind. Credit: Susie Goodall/PPL

This morning, he tacked south to avoid a high pressure system that may yet entrap Van Den Heede, in expectation of riding the strong favourable winds generated by the next low pressure system sweeping in from the west in the hope that this could close the gap or even leapfrog him ahead of the French leader.

Norwegian Are Wiig has displaced Estonia’s Uku Randmaa, moving up to third place over the weekend, while Britain’s Susie Goodall has the wind gods on her side.

‘IVE DONE A SUPER JOB OF FINDING THE WINDLESS PATCH IN THE SOUTH ATLANTIC’ texted Goodall to Race HQ on Friday. Fresh wind means her Rustler 36, DHL Starlight is currently in 6th place.

Meanwhile, Finland’s Tapio Lehtinen (Gaia 36 Asteria) has yet to find a fix for his solar panel and engine problems and is now very low on battery power.

LATEST POSITIONS AT 08:00 UTC 13 August 2018.

1. Jean- Luc VDH (FRA)Rustler 36 Matmut
2. Mark Slats (NED)Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick
3. Are Wiig (NOR) OE 32 Olleanna
4. Uku Randmaa (EST) Rustler 36 One and All
5. Tapio Lehtinen (FIN) Gaia 36 Asteria
6. Susie Goodall (GBR) Rustler 36 DHL Starlight
7. Igor Zaretskiy (RUS) Endurance 35 Esmeralda
8. Gregor McGuckin (IRE) Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance
9. Loïc Lepage (FRA) Nicholson 32 Laaland
10. Abhilash Tomy (IND) Suhaili replica Thuriya
11. Istvan Kopar (USA) Tradewind 35 Puffin
12. Mark Sinclair (Aus) Lello 34 Coconut

1. Philippe Péché (FRA) Rustler 36 PRB
2. Antoine Cousot (FRA) Biscay 36 Métier Intérim

1. Francesco Cappelletti (ITA) Endurance 35 007

1. Ertan Beskardes (GBR) Rustler 36 Lazy Otter
2. Kevin Farebrother (AUS) Tradewind 35 Sagarmatha
3. Nabil Amra (PAL) Biscay 36 Liberty II