Paprec-Virbac 2 loses port rudder in second collision with submerged object.

Jean-Pierre Dick looks set to give up his battle to stay in the Vendée Globe after a collision during the night which removed his port rudder and assembly off the transom of Paprec-Virbac 2.

The Nicois skipper considered last night that his race is over. After damaging his starboard rudder in a similar type of collision with a semi-submerged object 16 days ago when he was leading the race, Dick had fought valiantly to make a repair, and was in sixth position when the cruel blow occurred.

He was sailing at around 15 knots of boat speed, under mainsail and gennaker when incident happened during the hours of darkness.

The skipper reported to his shore team that he has no idea what the object was. He immediately slowed the boat, reduced sail to two reefs and a staysail and turned on to the opposite gybe so that he could steer with his starboard rudder.

His position was approximately 47 deg 49.53 S, 143 deg 08.10 W. That places him about 1700 miles south of the French Polynesian Islands, 2700 miles WNW of Cape Horn, and about 1800 miles from New Zealand.

The Nicois skipper is unharmed, there is no other damage reported to the boat and he is making a compass course of about 350 degrees towards the South Pacific high pressure system which will initially provide calmer winds and seas while he and his team assess the options.

“At 13h00 (GMT), Paprec-Virbac 2 was sailing on the starboard tack under mainsail and gennaker at 15 knots. I was sleeping and heard a  big-bang, a loud noise.  I rushed outside and saw the port rudder was out of the water and was wobbling around. The whole structure has been damaged. I was just about to put on my foulies, when the whole thing broke off and fell in the water.  It all happened in less than a minute.  It had to be the port rudder when the starboard one was already damaged.   I hit a UFO, probably a growler, and it’s extremely depresssing to see that again.  Sailing with one rudder would be dangerous.  The Vendée Globe is over for me.” Reported Dick.

“It was a dark night and suddenly there was a very violent hit and carbon breaking noise, I woke up very rapidly.” Jean-Pierre told the special radio broadcast, “I woke up rapidly and when I got out I could see the port rudder was up and a few seconds later the whole thing, the cassette, everything, dropped and sank deep into the Pacific. I could only watch.”

” I am heading north to try to reach the anticyclone zone to avoid the stronger winds. Then I will choose between the French Pacific Islands or New Zealand.”
“It is so very disappointing. There is such a lot of work to participate and try to win. It is a four year campaign with a new boat, and a lot of big personal involvements. It’s your whole life. And everything is gone. You are without that objective. It is not good.” Dick said.

 On the last day of 2008 the leaders are on the straight line to Cape Horn, 1600 miles away, with Michel Desjoyeaux holding a lead of just less than 100 miles over Roland Jourdain. The leaders now have to choose between heading south in search of stronger winds or keep with the straight line course and risk less consistent breezes nearer the Chilean coast.

Meantime British skippers Brian Thompson (Bahrain Team Pindar) in ninth place and Steve White (Toe in the Water) are battling with their electrical and mechanical problems as they struggle into the New Year. Thompson is struggling with what may be an electrical fault with his alternators, while White has had to slow to a near halt to, again, try to construct a fully functioning, autopilot from his faulty ones.

A note again on the unreliability of the mileages on the rankings tables at the present time. The problem is in the method that is used to calculate the distance remaining to the finish via the security gates. At present when the competitor passes the east edge of the gate in the south then they are credited with a big mileage gain.