One of the toughest races in event's history

Vendee solo, non-stop, round-the-world sailor Michel Desjoyeaux has rounded Cape Horn entering the final stretch north in the Atlantic Ocean toward the finish.

He is luckier than many of his colleagues: as the original 30 boats has been whittled down to 14 through injury, and gear failure. The latest victims are:

* Sébastien Josse (FRA), BT: During a snowy night on Dec. 25, with wind gusts up
to 55 knots, a 10-metre wave capsized the boat, holding the mast on the water at
around 120 degrees for a few minutes before the boat righted. As well as losing
the mast-head wind instruments, there were three cracks in the coachroof of BT,
a damaged bulkhead and a bent port rudder. Josse officially retired December 29,
2008 and was heading to New Zealand.

* Derek Hatfield (CAN), Algimouss Spirit of Canada: On Dec. 28th, Hatfield broke
his top two spreaders early in the morning when knocked flat in huge seas and
gusts to 40 knots. Hatfield officially retired December 29, 2008 and was heading
to Australia.

* Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA), Paprec-Virbac 2: If JP’s New Year wishes included
finishing the Vendee Globe, he was immediately foiled as on the first of the
year, his one remaining undamaged rudder was snatched off the stern when he
struck a second semi-submerged object. Damaging the first rudder lost him the
lead, and now the second time his race is over.

* Jonny Malbon (GBR), Artemis: Melbon’s mainsail began delaminating three weeks
ago, apparently due to a problem with the adhesion between the scrim and fibres.
Over the past 24 hours the sail has broken down further, and now with a one
metre-long vertical tear developing as the final taffeta layer disintegrates,
Melbon announced his retirement on January 4th. Sadly, this same situation is
occurring for Dee Caffari (GBR) aboard Aviva, and may soon force her retirement
as well.

* The injuries to Yann Elies were worse than feared. On 18 December Eliès incurred a fractured femur, pelvis and backbone. Eliès was rescued by the Australian Navy on Dec. 20th, with members of his team planning on retrieving the boat. However, now the Generali IMOCA Open 60 is considered lost at sea some 700 miles south of Australia. While the rescue team was in transit on Friday 26th December, they were told that the distress beacon had stopped transmitting, and it was no longer possible to identify the boat’s position. The weather conditions worsened and the team was forced to call off the search.

Solo, non-stop, around the world race in Open 60s.
Standings as of 18:30 UTC (Top 5 plus of 30 entrants; 14 now competing):
1. Michel Desjoyeaux (FRA), Foncia, 7154.7 nm Distance to finish
2. Roland Jourdain (FRA), Veolia Environnement, 86.2 nm Distance to leader
3. Jean Le Cam (FRA), VM Matériaux, 473.1 nm DTL
4. Vincent Riou (FRA), PRB, 705.2 nm DTL
5. Armel Le Cléac´h (FRA), Brit Air, 734.4 nm DTLL

More here 

Picture by Yachtpals