Following the damage to his rudder in the late morning (Thursday), Morgan Lagravière, the skipper of Safran, has confirmed that he has been forced to abandon the Vendée Globe, after agreement with his team and his sponsors.
On a phone call with his team this afternoon, Lagravière explained: "I had a really rough night, with autopilot problems. I had between 20-25 knots of wind and the boat was uncontrollable. I was knocked down 4 or 5 times. While I was taking a nap at midday, I felt the boat broach. While I was righting, I noticed that the leeward rudder had come out of its base and that 2/3 of it was missing. I think this was due to hitting a UFO.
Unfortunately, I don't have enough kit to repair the damage, so this is the end for me.
I want to keep in mind the positives of this adventure: 18 days of extraordinary racing on a very powerful boat, with which I was always in the hunt. This solo race was also an opportunity for me to learn a little about myself and what's important in life. I want to thank my technical team and all the fans who supported me."
Lagravière is currently sailing towards Cape Town (South Africa), where he is expected to arrive within three days.
Philippe Petitcolin, managing director of Safran, expressed his support for the young skipper: "It's a huge disappointment for Morgan, the Safran Sailing Team, and for all the Safran employees, who have passionately followed and supported the boat and this adventure. Since the start in Les Sables d'Olonne, the Morgan-Safran duo has shown itself to be more than up to the challenge and has been permanently in the lead group. Morgan has shown his intensely competitive spirit, and represented the values of Safran. I join all Group employees in sending him my support at this difficult time."