Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Loick Peyron's Gitana 80 has dismasted

[Source: Vendée Globe] At around 13h00 (UTC) this afternoon, Loïck Peyron's IMOCA Open 60 racing in the Vendée Globe dismasted while sailing 180 miles south of the Crozet Islands and 650 miles from the Kerguelen Islands.

Peyron, the only skipper in the solo round the world race to have competed in the first edition of the race in 1989 , was in third place around fifteen miles from the new leader, Sébastien Josse (BT),

Early this afternoon Loïck Peyron (Gitana Eighty) informed the Race Directors that his boat had been dismasted. He was sailing at the time under Solent with one reef in the main in thirty knot winds. At the time of the incident he was inside his boat. The skipper was not injured and is in good health.

The cause of the damage is not yet known, but the French skipper confirmed he still has his boom and was thinking about where to sail under jury rig. Loïck Peyron had proven to be one of the leading contenders during the first third of the 24,275 mile solo ocean race. For sixteen days Peyron had been in the lead (in the 11h rankings), at the top of the 26 boat fleet on the way down the Atlantic before Sébastien Josse and then Jean-Pierre Dick (Paprec-Virbac 2) took over this role.

It goes without saying that this dismasting is a salutary reminder of what can happen in the Southern Ocean in this grueling solo ocean race and perhaps will influence some of the other competitors, who have been pushing hard over the past few days. Peyron had experienced halyard problems on his gennaker before entering the Indian Ocean and climbed the mast yesterday to deal with this.

At 49°36 south and 52°47 east this afternoon at 15h UTC, the monohull belonging to Baron Benjamin de Rothschild is making slow headway.

In a short report, Loïck Peyron spoke about the circumstances of his dismasting: “There were thirty knots of wind and Gitana Eighty had one reef in the main and was under Solent. There were no particular reasons for the damage and everything was fine on board, when the mast suddenly came down without fwarning. I was inside when I heard a loud noise. When I went outside on the deck, I could see the mast had gone. I still have the boom and we're currently considering our plans.”

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