Vendée Globe skipper Jean-Pierre Dick’s hope of placing third was crushed Monday when his boat, Virbac-Paprec 3, suddenly lost its entire 4-ton keel just before midnight.
With only 2,000 miles left in his third Vendée Globe, the incident occurred approximately 500 miles northwest of the Carpe Verde islands. “I was sailing on starboard tack under mainsail with one reef and the solent, in 20 knots of wind…I went out to adjust the sails. At that moment, I heard a loud bang,” reported Dick.
“I eased off the main sail and the boom went down in the water. The boat then violently bent on her side, and she stayed like that for quite a long time, until the wind got weaker and the rain stopped,” Dick continued. “Then I could slowly bear away. The runner was on the wrong side of the boom, but I was still able to bear away, roll the solent up and go to the end of the boom to move the runner back on the right side.”
Dick managed to fill the ballasts to stabilize his boat and is now sailing 1,000 miles toward the Azores at 8 knots with a staysail and two reefs in his mainsail. He plans to arrive at the Azores within six days, at about the same time he’d originally hoped to complete the race.
British sailor Alex Thomson is now likely to take third, though Dick has not yet retired from the race. Dick, who was closing in on Vendée Globe leaders Francois Gabart and Armel Cléac´h, is heartbroken. “My dream of a podium finish in the Vendée Globe has suddenly sunk.”
Photo courtesy of Vendée Globe/Jean Marie Liot