Vincent Riou of France surrendered his spot in the 2012 Vendée Globe Sunday morning, becoming the seventh skipper to retire from the race. After he collided with a FO (floating object) Saturday, Riou damaged his boat’s monohull and the shroud underneath his outrigger.
This was Riou’s third time competing in the Vendée Globe. He won the 2004-2005 Vendée Globe Race and he was among the top competitors favored to win this race.
Riou said through tears immediately after the collision Saturday his final decision of whether or not to continue in his third race would depend on whether he could sail through the Southern Ocean safely. Riou was optimistic about his return once he had come up with a way to repair his monohull. But when Riou and the rest of his PRB team realized the severity of damage to the shroud underneath the outrigger, his return seemed impossible. The damage to the outrigger left Riou with a mast that could break at any time.
“It was such a tough decision, but it's also the most reasonable one,” Riou said. “I had had this goal, the Vendée Globe, in mind for years and I spent so much energy on this project.”
Riou expressed feelings of guilt for the damage to his boat and gratitude toward his partners and sponsors.
“I'm terribly disappointed, and I'm also thinking of my partners, PRB of course, but also Bouyer Leroux and Mercedes,” Riou said.
PRB CEO Jean-Jacques Laurent said the entire PRB team stands behind Riou.
“These damages to the boat definitely give us a sense of unfinished business because Vincent was preparing for the South with a lot of determination. Our hearts go out to him,” Laurent said.
For more information on the Vendée Globe visit vendeeglobe.org
Photo courtesy of Vendée Globe