The French skipper Sébastien Josse, who lies in third place in the Vendée Globe, suffered serious damage to the port side foil of the IMOCA Edmond de Rothschild when he ploughed into the trough of a big wave this morning. He had been sailing on starboard gybe contending with difficult conditions, winds of 30-35kts and big, confused seas when the incident happened, some 900 miles to the SW of Cape Leeuwin.
Josse reported the damage to his team at 0930hrs UTC this morning and has subsequently put his racing priorities temporarily on hold in order to avoid the worst of the tropical low pressure system which was generated in the notorious area off Mozambique several days ago. The depression was forecasted to hold gusts of 50kts and seas up to ten metres high. He is in regular contact with his team and Race Direction. The safety of the skipper and the IMOCA 60 is his primary priority. He was expected to route to the south-east towards the centre of the low pressure system, seeking lighter winds as he looks to find a solution to his damage. The low pressure centre was forecast to be tracking close to the Antarctic Exclusion Zone. The damage to his port side foil is reported to have happened when the boat stopped suddenly and the appendage crashed downwards into the top of the housing, damaging the control system.
Romain Attanasio (Famille Mary-Etamine du Lys), 39, who was lying in 18thplace has been forced to alter course towards Cape Town after suffering damage to both of his rudders. Racing his first Vendée Globe aboard the historic evergreen Lombard design which started out as Catherine Chabaud's Whirlpool and completed the last race as Initiatives Coeur in the hands of Tanguy de Lamotte, Attanasio has expressed his desire to carry out repairs in a sheltered area near Cape Town in accordance with the race's no assistance rules, and aims to continue the race. Attanasio is reported to be in good health and when the incident happened was about 470 miles south of Cape Town where he is expected in around three to four days. “Romain is not giving up and is already feeling more positive. He will be doing his utmost to repair his boat and continue his adventures. I hope he will be encouraged by as many people as possible,” Sam Davies, Attanasio's partner and team manager commented.
Armel Le Cléac'h smashed the race reference for the passage from Les Sables d'Olonne to Cape Leeuwin early this morning breaking the mark set by François Gabart in December 2012 by an incredible five days 14 hours and 26 minutes. Banque Populaire VIII skipper Le Cléach took just 28 days 20 hours and 12 minutes to reach the longitude of the SW corner of Australia. A certain symmetry with the 2012-13 race emerged when Briton Alex Thomson crossed the Cape Leeuwin longitude five hours and 16 minutes later in second place. Four years ago during the last edition Le Cléac'h was five hours and 49 minutes behind race winner Gabart. In 2012 Thomson – who went on to finish the race third - was also having a great race on the previous Hugo Boss and crossed Cape Leeuwin in third place one day and three hours behind Gabart.
Thomson has lost some miles to Le Cléac'h over the last 36 hours and is 110 miles behind on the 1400hrs Monday rankings. The top duo had been suffering with difficult, more moderate airs during yesterday, but are expecting to get the strong winds from the low which Josse is struggling with, although they have a better orientation relative to its path. Le Cléac'h admitted he did not know his exact elapsed time nor how much he had broken the record by when he spoke to Vendée LIVE today before revealing that he listens to comedy podcasts to relax from the constant stress. “It was nice to pass the second cape in the lead. It wasn't really a key objective, but it's great to be in front at one of the three major capes we have to pass,” he said. “Alex was first at the Cape of Good Hope a few hours ahead of me and this time it was the opposite. I haven't studied the exact time, as I have been busy on Banque Populaire, but I think it was a good time. I don't know what was up with Alex last night. He wasn't very fast. Maybe he had a problem to deal with on his boat. We're in a transition phase between two lows. Conditions are starting to change and the skies are clouding over. The wind is gradually strengthening. We just gybed as the wind shifted to the WNW. It's going to get rougher in the next few hours. We'll be entering the Pacific in just under a week, but the final week in the Indian is going to be complicated. It's not going to be easy with the first deep low moving in this evening and then another one that will be with us south of New Zealand. Yesterday I had a lot of manoeuvres to do, but after that you enjoy a good meal and change your clothes. My little heater allows me to dry my clothes, which is good as after each manoeuvre we are soaked with the sea and with sweat. Then to relax I listen to some comedy podcasts.”
Japanese skipper Kojiro Shiraishi, who is heading to Cape Town after being forced to abandon due to a breakage to the top third of his mast on Spirit of Yukoh, was visibly touched by the messages of support when he spoke to Vendée LIVE today. Safran skipper Morgan Lagraviere, who also had to abandon, and got to know Shiraishi well when based at Roland Jourdain's Kairos base, shared a typical sentiment. Shiraishi said: “As the first Japanese sailor to do the Vendée Globe, it was really an honour to be there at the start. It's true that it is a disappointment not to complete this Vendée Globe. I have had lots of messages of support and would like to thank everyone.” Morgan Lagravière responded: “I'm glad to see you smiling as I know how hard it must have been for you not to finish this race. You have made us laugh so far and I'm sure you'll continue to do that. I look forward to having a debriefing with you.”