Slutseglat för Riou

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Först fick min favorit Seb Josse bryta. Och nu Vincent Riou, som blivit räddad av Loick Peyron. Hårda bud som väntat. Foto: PRB/B. Stichelbaut/Sea&Co

17:29 Keel failure aboard PRB – Vincent Riou to abandon ship

Vincent Riou reported hitting a large sea mammal at 3:00 AM this morning, but his initial assessment was that the damage remained superficial…

The skipper realised this afternoon that one of his keel pins was missing, and that the appendage was only held by the ram used to cant it. With an approaching storm, Vincent Riou has decided to abandon ship and has requested assistance. Loick Peyron onboard Gitana Eighty has been directed towards PRB by the Race Direction team, and should arrive in the vicinity around 17:00 GMT. PRB has dropped her sails, filled her ballast tanks to increase her stability even if the keel was to drop out from the hull. PRB is in 2.5 metres of swell, in 10 knots of NW wind, in light fog and is 530 miles from Halifax (Nova Scotia).

18:29 Vincent Riou safe aboard Gitana Eighty

PRB’s skipper is now safe aboard Gitana Eighty, and Loick Peyron is back in full racing mode – his “passenger” prevented from participating in the manoeuvres. PRB has been left with the ballasts full and the sails stacked at the lowest point of the hull in order to stabilise it.

“Last night at around 3:00 GMT, reaching rather fast, between 15 and 18 knots, I felt a shock which didn’t worry me too much since it was violent but ‘soft’ – I didn’t hear any carbon crack. I’m sure it was a shark, and actually I think I cut it in two since I saw two portions emerge at the back of the boat. I assessed the possible damage, and only saw a minor problem on the fairing of the keel box, nothing serious but anyway I slowed down a bit. I took advantage of the ridge we crossed today to stop and get a better look, and that’s when I discovered one of the keel pins was missing. The keel was being held in place because it was canted and somehow stuck, but I didn’t really want to face the gale expected for tomorrow on a boat whose keel could fall off at any time. I decided to contact Race Direction, and they called Loick to ask him to head towards my position (Ed note – Vincent asked for assistance at 15:00 GMT). Gitana Eighty was only 15 miles from me, I prepared the boat before leaving it. I filled the ballast tanks*, stacked the sails down below to lower the centre of gravity, activated the beacons and got ready. I took that decision quickly, knowing that the weather allowed for a safe operation. I inflated the raft, secured it to PRB and boarded it, then Loick made an approach and I climbed aboard Gitana Eighty. I don’t really know what to say, it’s like my arms just fell off (…) Now all I can do is make some phone calls to organise the salvage of the boat, which should be done in 2 or 3 days.”

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