He had the resume, the credibility, and the talent. What he hadn’t expected was the whale.
French superstar sailor Michel Desjoyeaux, skipper of the IMOCA 60 Foncia, and an early favorite to win the Artemis Transat race—he commanded a spot on the leader board early on—had an unexpected encounter with a whale on May 15 (Day 5 of the race), and was forced to retire. According to Desjoyeaux, the boat suffered damage to its front section, as well as the starboard daggerboard and possibly the daggerboard’s casing. While the skipper is unharmed and the boat is, apparently, still sound, Desjoyeaux and his sponsor, Foncia, made the tough decision to retire from the transatlantic run in order to protect the boat from unnecessary stresses until it can be properly inspected.
The French skipper told race organizers via sat-phone, "I was upwind at 10 to 11 knots, and I heard a crack. I felt the starboard daggerboard hit something - it's probably broken. I can't get it up more than 1.5 meters. I hope there won't be a big leak. I don't see any interest in pursuing the race with a boat which is not competitive; it makes more sense to head home to Brittany, which should take about 4 days. It's a big disappointment, because it has been a very interesting race. It's the first time I have had to retire from an offshore race, that's how bad it is.”
Meanwhile, the rest of the fleet is encountering light, drifter conditions en route to Boston, with Seb Josse and BT leading the charge.
For more information, check out www.theartemistransat.com
Posted: May 16, 2008