Following the collision with an unidentified floating object late yesterday afternoon, the French skipper Thomas Ruyant (Le Souffle du Nord pour Le Projet Imagine) competing in the Vendée Globe is in serious difficulty. The 35 year-old skipper is in good health, but his boat is on the point of splitting in half. After spending the night hove to, Thomas Ruyant is attempting to motor to Bluff in New Zealand, which is 260 miles away from his seriously damaged boat.
TRANSLATION OF SKIPPER'S QUOTES:
“I have lowered the mainsail and am now motoring. I spent a few hours hove to. The damage at the front of the boat is spreading. The hull is opening up and the frame coming away a bit everywhere. I'm sailing to the south of New Zealand. I'm not sure if it will all stay in one piece until then. What's good is that I'm in helicopter range, which is reassuring. I just have to push a button and they'll come and get me. The inside hasn't been affected and with my watertight doors, I'm sheltered. The shock was exceptionally violent. It gives me the shivers just thinking about it. I was at 17-18 knots and came to a sudden standstill hitting what was probably a container seeing the damage it has done to the hull. The whole of the forward section exploded and folded up. Luckily the boat was not dismasted. It was really very violent. I was sleeping on my beanbag and fortunately I had my head down in that, as I ended up hitting the mast bulkhead. I found things that were stowed in the stern right up against the forward bulkhead. They got thrown 10m forward. I'm not far from the coast and I think I must be close to a shipping lane, which is perhaps the cause, as I have seen several cargo vessels. It must be the shipping lane between New Zealand and Australia. Given the seas down here, there are probably several containers in the water. I think that is what I hit given the violence of the crash. A nasty Vendée Globe. It's over. I got halfway around the world. I'm upset that it has come to an end like this. I've had my share of problems. A lot of problems, but this one, I wouldn't wish on anyone…”.