Race favourite out of Artemis Transat after whale strike

At 14h45 GMT today, Michel Desjoyeaux contacted The Artemis Transat Race Direction to inform the team he had hit a whale and had to withdraw from the race.

The collision occurred near the starboard daggerboard, and Desjoyeaux is concerned about the state of the lower part of the daggerboard casing. The skipper is unhurt and the boat is still safe and seaworthy. In order not to take any risks for the skipper or the boat, the decision has been taken to retire from the race.

Joined by satellite telephone, the skipper declared:
“About two hours ago, I was upwind doing 10 to 11 knots, I was in the boat and I heard a crack. I felt the starboard daggerboard hit something – it’s probably broken. I can’t get it up more than 1.5 meters. I hope there won’t be a big leak. I don’t see any interest in pursuing the race with a boat which is not competitive anymore, it makes more sense to head home to Brittany, which should take me about 4 days. It’s a big disappointment, because it has been a very interesting race. It’s the first time I have to retire from an offshore race, that’s how bad it is”

Desjoyeaux is approximately 1000 miles away from his Brittany base, where he should arrive in about 4 days. He started the race as favourite following wins in the Vendee Globe and Route de Rhum.