Saturday, 3 January 2009

Vendée Globe 2008-9: Return to the Furious Fifties (but 2 head for New Zealand)

View from the race leader on board Foncia. Image copyright Michel Desjoyeaux/Foncia/Vendée Globe.

by Véronique Teurlay and SailRaceWin

Sam Davies (Roxy) complained of a lack of wind last night, but 2,000 miles in front of the contented Brit, race leader Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) has regained the storms and confused seas of the Furious Fifties. However, Desjoyeaux's speed, at 11.6 knots, was the slowest of the 5 leading boats, the others recording approximately 16 knots apiece.

A happy Sam Davies welcomes in 2009 from the Southern Ocean. Image copyright Sam Davies/Roxy/Vendée Globe.

Desjoyeaux is expected to reach Cape Horn on Monday, after 56 or 57 days at sea. This is about the same timing as Jean Le Cam in the 2004 race, but with a course 1,160 miles longer this time.

The missing port rudder and steering gear damage to Paprec

Of the retirees, which now amount to 15 - exactly half the fleet that started the race - Jean-Pierre Dick (Paprec-Vibrax 2) and Sébastien Josse (BT) are heading for New Zealand. Josse is 600 miles from Auckland and should arrive on Tuesday. Dick is still 2,000 miles, or 12 days, away from Aotearoa.

Jean-Pierre Dick manages to smile, and send New Year greetings, despite retiring from the race in the direction of New Zealand. Image copyright Jean-Pierre Dick/Paprec-Vibrax 2/Vendée Globe.

Leading Positions

1 Michel Desjoyeaux (Foncia) 8152 miles from the finish
2 Roland Jourdain (Veolia Environnement) +69 miles from the leader
3 Jean Le Cam (VM Matériaux) +336 miles
4 Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air) +599 miles
5 Vincent Riou (PRB) +616 miles
6 Samantha Davies (Roxy)

Vendée Globe

Friday, 2 January 2009

Rolex Sydney Hobart 2008: A Milestone Race

A rainbow brings colour to the marina in Hobart at the start of 2009. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster.

by Giles Pearman

The 64th Rolex Sydney Hobart has been a milestone one with a high-quality fleet of 100 boats including eleven overseas entries, an unexpectedly close line honours battle at the head of the fleet between the maxis Wild Oats XI and Skandia and four of the sensationally fast downwind TP52s filling the first four placings overall on handicap.

Bob Oatley's canting-keeled design Reichel/Pugh 98 Wild Oats XI took line honours for a record fourth-successive year after trailing Grant Wharington's Don Jones-designed canting-keeled Skandia for most of the race. While the two maxis slowed in lighter winds along the Tasmanian coast to be denied the course record, the TP52s hardly faltered and finished within five hours of them. Bob Steel's Quest won the race's major trophy the Tattersall's Cup for the overall winner on IRC corrected time, from Alan Whiteley's Cougar II. Both are Farr designs. Graeme Wood's Judel/Vrolijk-designed Wot Now was third and Syd Fischer's Farr-designed TP52 Ragamuffin fourth.

The two brand new Reichel/Pugh designs in the race also enjoyed the hard-running conditions with Alan Brierty's R/P 62 Limit placing fifth and Stephen Ainsworth's R/P 63 Loki eighth overall on IRC. Both are exciting boats, featuring the latest rig and sail-making technology, and their results were highly promising considering the Rolex Sydney Hobart was their very first offshore race.

As always, while the boats were impressive the people manning them were even more so and provided the most touching moments during the prize-giving ceremony at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania today, which was attended by His Excellency Peter Underwood, Governor of Tasmania, and Michael Aird MLC, representing the Premier of Tasmania, along with other distinguished guests from the organising clubs and the event supporters. Bob Steel, who won the race in 2002 with a previous Quest, was ready for the reminder at the ceremony that he had thrown the watch he was wearing at the time into the Derwent River when he accepted the Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece that goes to the winning yacht. Asked would he do the same with Rolex Yacht-Master he had won on that occasion, he pulled out an old watch from his pocket and theatrically threw it into the crowd.

Richard de Leyser, General Manager of Rolex Australia, presents a Rolex Yachtmaster timepiece and the Tattersall's Cup and replica to Mr and Mrs Robert Steel. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster.

Steel praised his crew saying they had, 'put in a tremendous effort in beating the strong competition in this year's race', especially his sailing-master Michael Green, who has crewed with Steel in the Admiral's Cup as well as this race, including the 2002 win. Green, who has now sailed in thirty Rolex Sydney Hobarts, aims to overtake the thirty-five race record of his father Peter, a famed sailing-master from the race's earlier years who died in 1990. Each year he has raced since, Michael has poured a tot of rum into the sea for Peter as his boat has rounded Tasman Light nearing the finish of the race and downed one himself. Michael Green inherited a Rolex from his father, but lost it in a home robbery about thirteen years ago. And today, in recognition of Michael's efforts, Steel handed his second Rolex to him at the presentation ceremony; a gesture that left Green close to tears and brought deafening applause from the audience.

Another emotional moment came when John Walker received the medallion recognising the completion of his 25th Rolex Sydney Hobart in his Peterson 34 Impeccable, the boat he has sailed in all of them. Aged 86, he is the oldest skipper ever to sail in the race. "This race will be my last," he said simply before thanking the crews who have sailed with him over the years.

Syd Fischer was recognised with a medallion for completing his 40th race. Fischer, who is 81, in previous Ragamuffins, won the Tattersall's Cup in 1992 and took line honours in 1988 and 1980. His current TP52 Ragamuffin finished second to the 2007 overall winner Rosebud.

Tony Cable has now completed 45 Sydney Hobart Races. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster.

Tony Cable from Sydney, who raced on the Volvo 60 Getaway-Sailing.Com, was recognised for completing his 45th race, passing the 44-race record of the late John Bennetto from Tasmania and Lou Abrahams of Victoria. "Records don't interest me particularly; I'm out there because I enjoy being at sea, the companionship and the competition," he said.

Understandably not present to receive his 25-year medallion was Graeme Ainley, skipper of Georgia, which sank on the first night when the rudderstock pulled out in a collision with an underwater object. The race committee awarded the Rani Trophy for the 'most meritorious performance' to Les Rodriguez's Volvo 60 Telcoinabox Merit for rescuing the crew of Georgia. "In difficult conditions the crew of Telcoinabox Merit conducted the rescue mission in an exemplary demonstration of seamanship," the citation read.

The award for the yacht travelling the most distance to compete went to Walross IV, owned by the Berlin-based Academy Sailing Club, which trains young students in offshore sailing. The yacht departed from Germany in October 2007 to begin a world-girdling voyage that took her to Qingdao for the Olympic sailing and on to Sydney.

Matt Allen, Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster.

As has been tradition this year, Commodore Matt Allen of the CYCA, made poignant reference during his speech to the tragic events of 1998 that have so shaped recent editions of this great race, but drew out the positives from the events especially the developments in safety and survival equipment and techniques.

Richard de Leyser, General Manager of Rolex Australia, said Rolex was honoured to be a partner of the race noting that, "the Rolex Sydney Hobart is one of the world's great sporting challenges and within Rolex it is considered as one of the iconic events with which the company is associated. It rates alongside the likes of the US Masters and British Open in the world of golf and Wimbledon in the world of tennis."

New Year fireworks in front of the dock in Hobart. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster.


1. Quest, Bob Steel (AUS/NSW), TP52
2. Cougar II, Alan Whiteley (AUS/VIC), TP52
3. Wot Now, Graeme Wood (AUS/NSW), TP52

IRC Div 0: Quantum Racing, Ray Roberts (AUS/NSW), Cookson 50
IRC Div 1: Quest, Bob Steel, (AUS/NSW), TP52
IRC Div 2: Ragtime, Chris Welsh (USA), Spencer 65
IRC Div 3: Tow Truck, Anthony Paterson (AUS/NSW), Ker 11.3
IRC Div 4: Winsome, Harry Heijst (NED), S&S 41
PHS Div 1: Telcoinabox Merit, Leo Rodriguez (AUS/QLD), Volvo 60
PHS Div 2: Lloyds Brokers - Too Impetuous, Lindsay Patterson (AUS/QLD), Holland 43
Sydney 38: Morris Finance Cinquante, Ian Murray (AUS/VIC)
Cruising: Pippin, Roger Sayers (AUS/QLD), Farr 37

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2008

Thursday, 1 January 2009

A-Cat Worlds 2009: Australia's Glenn Ashby Wins A-Cat Australian Nationals

Glenn Ashby: champion A-Cat sailor. Image copyright

by Rob Kothe

Five times A-Cat World Champion Glenn Ashby reminded everyone just why he is the A-Cat King today. He has produced a dominating display in the five race Australian A-Cat titles on Lake Macquarie. His scorecard was 1, 1,3,3,1 - an impressive result in an 85 boat fleet.

The vertically challenged sailor, he is only 5 foot six inches (1.68 metres) has blistering speed, surprising when another six inches or 150mm would get more weight to windward.

Ashby has a different trapezing style to most of his competitors; his body is much lower on the boat, his airborne hull seems to just skim over the waves. His head is so low it's clear he often can't see the leeward hull, but his boat is flat and flat is fast.

Glenn Ashby: A-Cat Pre-Worlds Champion. Image copyright

Ashby says 'It comes from the Tornado. Darren (Bundock) is a low trapper and I need to be lower than helm, so I've always been a very low trapper. It provides maximum efficiency and I need that because I am far from tall.'

As well as speed, Ashby has always been a very smart sailor; he has five A-Cat World titles to prove that. But his silver medal Olympic Tornado campaign has sharpened his course skills even more, in the last two years especially.

He agrees. 'The last two years of the Tornado campaign have certainly improved my racing skills. Things like picking starting positions and shifts. The Olympic campaign has polished up some of the edges.'

'I guess it comes out best on tricky days. Today was a really 'woolly' day; we had a westerly from 6 knots to 28 knots, shifty, puffy wind. Really tricky conditions. There were some huge snakes and ladders. It was not a speed day; it was an eyes out of the boat day.'

Glenn Ashby has the right number on his sail for a champion! Image copyright

In the first race of the day, the fourth in the series, Steve Brewin won from Tom Slingsby, Glenn Ashby and Brad Collett. In Race Five, Ashby took the gun from Andrew Landerberger and Brad Collett. Slingsby was seventh.

2007 Australian A Class Champion Steve Brewin commented back in the boat park, 'Glenn is always very hard to beat, so it was nice to do that in the first race today. On Monday he gave us a sailing lesson right from the start and that was a wake up call.

'I would have said that Tom Slingsby is probably the biggest improver that I've seen in a long while, in the shortest time. Today he had a 2 and a 7. Scott Anderson's doing a lot of training with Tom and certainly he's come up to pace.'

In fourth place overall was BMW Oracle America's Cup match racer James Spithill, who had a 16, 12 day after a second and seven yesterday.

James Spithill at the Belmont Sailing Club on Lake Macquarie. Image copyright

'I've been able to string together a few good results. However I think my family who were watching on the first day, just think it's a miracle I have not capsized. I've almost done it coming into the finish. Yesterday in one race, closing on the finish line I just pulled off this gybe and my boat was right on the edge. I somehow flattened it out and it was a Spithill family disappointment, obviously' he laughed.

Slingsby, dual World Laser champion is another freshman in the A-Cat's who is messing with the pecking order.

He came ashore today with a huge grin on his face, after a second in this morning's race ahead of his Australian Sailing Team mate Ashby and then a seventh this afternoon.

Slingsby commented 'Starting catamarans is a whole new thing for me, so timed runs in are a bit different for me; but it's pretty crazy. I've been lucky to get off the start so far. I had one bad one yesterday.

'Glenn's quick. It's not the only thing. I think off the start line people can match him; he's just smart and his boat handling is better than everyone else's.

'In one race I saw him duck ten boats. It was just one of the biggest duckings, but then he came out and went the right way and was gone. I think his 'smarts' are what are getting him in front of everyone. He knows how to sail his boat, that's for sure.

'I like plenty of wind because I am a bitter heavier than most. The more shifts the better, (like today) I think. I'd prefer having a bit more of a mind game than everyone else. But it's fun, it's a great boat, a great class and I'm really enjoying it' concluded Slingsby.

The A-Cat Worlds commence at Belmont Sailing Club on Lake Macquarie on the 2nd January, with the Practice race. Racing concludes on 9th January.

A-Cat Worlds 2009

Rolex Sydney Hobart 2008: Remembrance Before Celebration

Wreath laid at Constitution Dock in memory of the six sailors who died in the 1998 Sydney Hobart Race. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

by Giles Pearman

The traditional dockside presentation of the Tattersall's Cup to the overall handicap winner and battle flags to the divisional winners of the 2008 Rolex Sydney Hobart was a moving occasion, preceded by a wreath-laying ceremony and a minute's silence to mark the tenth anniversary of the tragic 1998 race in which six sailors lost their lives.

Plaque commemorating the 1998 Sydney Hobart sailors at the Tasmanian Seafarers Memorial in Triabunna. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

The ceremony also remembered other sailors who have died in the race or on delivery passages associated with it, like the Hobart yacht Charleston, lost with all five crewmembers on the way to the start of the 1979 race. Members of four families of the lost sailors accompanied Matt Allen, Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, and Commodore Clive Simpson from the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania - the CYCA's partner club in organising the race - as they cast a floral tribute into the River Derwent.

Commodore Allen told the gathering, "ten years ago a severe and fast-developing storm resulted in the biggest ever maritime rescue conducted in Australian waters with 55 sailors rescued. This rescue operation involved some twenty-five aircraft, six rescue vessels and approximately one thousand search and rescue personnel. Five yachts sank and of 115 starters only 44 yachts made the finish in Hobart in a race that changed our sport forever."

Steadying his delivery to reflect the moving nature of the occasion, Commodore Allen continued, "as we mark this ten-year anniversary we remember the six lives lost in that race and the impact that loss of life had on the families and the yachting community. But it is also important that we remember all those who have perished during and because of the race since 1945."

Drawing positives from the tragedy, Commodore Allen went onto to explain to assembled crowd how, "the sport has seen a positive impact across the world in safety and the education and management of dealing with emergency situations. This included the design and introduction by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia of the safety sea survival course, which has been adopted worldwide through other ocean races. The abandonment and successful rescue this year of all fourteen crewmembers from Georgia has highlighted again the value of the course."

Ending the remembrance element of proceedings, Commodore Allen noted that, "following the tragic events of the '98 race we can take comfort that the lives lost were not in vain. Better safety standards and training the world over will remain as a lasting legacy to those who perished."

Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece for the overall IRC handicap winner, Quest. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster.

Turning to the celebratory part of the presentation, Bob Steel, skipper of the Tattersall's Cup winner Quest (AUS/NSW) who won the race in 2002 with a previous Quest, remarked that, "I am absolutely delighted to be standing here again, thanks to a great crew and a great opportunity. The weather was in our favour and we took full advantage of that." Steel added that even though the winds this year suited his Farr-designed TP52, it had been demanding on his crew, "being a running race you still have to be very, very focused, you have to be at it all the time and you can't make a mistake. If you make a mistake, you will not be not standing up here."

Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece and Tattersall's Cup for overall IRC handicap winner, Quest. Image copyright Rolex/Daniel Forster.

Quest, besides being overall IRC winner, won IRC Division 1 from another two TP52s, Cougar II (Alan Whiteley, AUS/VIC), also a Farr design, and Wot Now (Graeme Wood, AUS/NSW), a Judel/Vrolijk design. Ray Roberts' Farr-designed Cookson 50 Quantum Racing (AUS/NSW) won IRC Division 0 for canting-keeled boats despite breaking off half her rudder blade about 200 miles from the finish when it slammed into a sunfish or a shark.

From that point, Roberts' crew had to race with reduced sail area to keep the boat reasonably upright. "It put an end to our chances of pulling off victory and was a big disappointment," he said. "Winning Division 0 is a good consolation prize and I was really proud of the guys who kept sailing the boat hard and on its feet so we could at least finish the race and still maintain a reasonable position in the fleet."

Chris Welsh's legendary, veteran Spencer 65 Ragtime (USA) won IRC Division 2. The slender, hard-chined plywood 'sneak box' built 43 years ago, has a very competitive IRC rating and enjoyed the hard-running conditions that lasted almost the whole race for boats bigger than 45-feet overall.

The IRC Division 3 winner is the Ker 11.3 Tow Truck (AUS/NSW), owned by Anthony Paterson and sailed by the same team of young sailors from Lake Macquarie who successfully raced Paterson's previous boat, a Mumm 30 of the same name. Paterson bought the boat, by British designer Jason Ker, which had been based in Jersey (United Kingdom), via the internet. He and his crew spent three months re-organising the Ker 31 and had time to race her only in the 180 nm Cabbage Tree Island race, to qualify for the Rolex Sydney Hobart, as Paterson explained, "the boat was a bit unknown to us, but we've always had a group of about ten guys who have sailed together and know each other very, very well. We just went out and learnt the boat over the 600 odd miles and pushed the boat as hard as we possibly could."

Harry Heijst's Winsome (NED), one of the two 36-year-old Sparkman & Stephens 41's entered by Dutch owners, triumphed in Division 4. Near sister S&S 41 Pinta-M, was third, behind the S&S 48 Ray White Spirit of Koomooloo (AUS/QLD).

Overall PHS (performance handicap) winner is the Volvo 60 Telcoinabox Merit (Leo Rodriguez, AUS/QLD), the boat that expertly rescued the 14 crewmembers from the sinking Georgia (AUS/VIC) on the first night of the race. The Farr 37 Pippin (Roger Sayers, AUS/QLD) won the Cruising Division and Morris Finance Cinquante (Ian Murray, AUS/QLD) the Sydney 38 One-Design Division.

Seven yachts retired from the starting fleet of 100: Georgia (sank), Sanyo Maris (broken gooseneck), Inner Circle (generator failure), Helsal III (rudder damage), Leukaemia (rudder damage), Somoya (broken furler) and Pachamama: Swiss Top to Top Global Climate Expedition. Shogun was disqualified.

Dockside ambience in Hobart. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.

Four yachts have finished since the last report. Noel Sneddon & Rob Saunders Inca (AUS/ACT) completed the course at 2232 AEDT on 30th December. Sean Langman's immaculately restored, seventy-six year old Maluka of Kermandie (AUS/NSW) crossed the line four hours later. The Russian crewed Getaway Sailing 2 (AUS/NSW) ghosted over the finish just before daybreak on the morning of 31st December, whilst Chris Dawe's Polaris of Belmont (AUS/NSW) waited until today's dockside presentation to arrive at Constitution Dock to great applause.

This left Hobart resident Murray Wilkes' Nest Property (AUS/TAS), one of the smallest yachts in the fleet at thirty-feet, to close out the 64th Rolex Sydney Hobart, arriving at 1645 AEDT on the evening of 31st December. Nest Property was assured of a rapturous welcome from locals and tourists who have gathered in Hobart to bring in 2009. Wilkes will surely have cause to remember his first Rolex Sydney Hobart.

Dockside in Hobart's Port Elizabeth. Image copyright Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi.



1. Quest, Bob Steel (AUS/NSW), TP52
2. Cougar II, Alan Whiteley (AUS/VIC), TP52
3. Wot Now, Graeme Wood (AUS/NSW), TP52

IRC Div 0: Quantum Racing, Ray Roberts (AUS/NSW), Cookson 50
IRC Div 1: Quest, Bob Steel, (AUS/NSW), TP52
IRC Div 2: Ragtime, Chris Welsh (USA), Spencer 65
IRC Div 3: Tow Truck, Anthony Paterson (AUS/NSW), Ker 11.3
IRC Div 4: Winsome, Harry Heijst (NED), S&S 41
PHS Div 1: Telcoinabox Merit, Leo Rodriguez (AUS/QLD), Volvo 60
PHS Div 2: Lloyds Brokers - Too Impetuous, Lindsay Patterson (AUS/QLD), Holland 43
Sydney 38: Morris Finance Cinquante, Ian Murray (AUS/VIC)
Cruising: Pippin, Roger Sayers (AUS/QLD), Farr 37

The final prize giving for the Rolex Sydney Hobart 2008 will be held at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania on Thursday, 1 January 2009 at 1100 AEDT.

The 65th edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart will start at 1300 AEDT on 26 December 2009.

The 100-boat fleet that started the 64th Rolex Sydney Hobart had crews representing the USA, UK, New Zealand, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Russia and New Caledonia as well as every Australian state.

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2008

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Vendée Globe 2008-9: Onboard Images

Image copyright Sam Davies/Roxy/Vendée Globe.

Sam gets out her Roxy bikini earlier in the race. Image copyright Sam Davies/Roxy/Vendée Globe.

Roxy in the Southern Ocean. Image copyright Sam Davies/Roxy/Vendée Globe.

Ice sighted. Image copyright Sam Davies/Roxy/Vendée Globe.

An albatross for company. Image copyright Sam Davies/Roxy/Vendée Globe.

Fiery ocean sunset. Image copyright Sam Davies/Roxy/Vendée Globe.

Sam's Christmas gifts in the Southern Ocean. Image copyright Sam Davies/Roxy/Vendée Globe.

Sam puts her feet up at Christmas. Image copyright Sam Davies/Roxy/Vendée Globe.

Shrimps caught by Roxy. Image copyright Sam Davies/Roxy/Vendée Globe.

The handle of Sam's tea cup falls off: "I would like my skipper to take care of me with the same passion that she applies to care for her boat...". Image copyright Sam Davies/Roxy/Vendée Globe.

Arnaud Boissières looks down at the kite on board Akena Vérandas. Image copyright Arnaud Boissières/Akena Vérandas/Vendée Globe.

Mike Golding looks down at Ecover from up the mast. Image copyright Mike Golding/Ecover/Vendée Globe.

A deluge on Foncia as she hits a new speed record on autopilot of 30.44 knots. Image copyright Michel Desjoyeaux/Foncia/Vendée Globe.

Foncia in stormy seas. Image copyright Michel Desjoyeaux/Foncia/Vendée Globe.

Southern Ocean stormy seascape. Image copyright Michel Desjoyeaux/Foncia/Vendée Globe.

Seb Josse in his mirror. Image copyright Seb Josse/BT/Vendée Globe.

Splashy time on board for Seb Josse. Image copyright Seb Josse/BT/Vendée Globe.

A sunset from on board BT. Image copyright Seb Josse/BT/Vendée Globe.

Santa in the Southern Ocean. Image copyright Roland Jourdain/Veolia Environnement/Vendée Globe.

A bird hitches a ride on Brit Air. Image copyright Armel Le Cleac'h/Brit Air/Vendée Globe.

A little damp on board Artemis. Image copyright Jonny Malbon/Artemis/Vendée Globe.

Loïck Peyron up the mast. Image copyright Loïck Peyron/Gitana Eighty/Vendée Globe.

Nauticsport Kapsch. Image copyright Norbert Sedlacek/Nauticsport Kapsch/Vendée Globe.

A yellow Christmas for Norbert Sedlacek. Image copyright Norbert Sedlacek/Nauticsport Kapsch/Vendée Globe.

Rough seas and high winds on Christmas Eve, as seen from Bahrain Team Pindar. Image copyright Brian Thompson/Bahrain Team Pindar/Vendée Globe.

Dominique Wavre's Christmas on Temenos 2. Image copyright Dominique Wavre/Temenos 2/Vendée Globe.

Vendée Globe 2008-9

Vendée Globe comes to New Zealand (unfortunately)

by Seb Josse' media and SailRaceWin

Sailors, especially the leaders in the 2008-9 singlehanded around-the-world Vendée Globe race, have been troubled by the Southern Ocean. Seb Josse is one of the latest casualties and is now heading for New Zealand.

From Sébastien Josse (Monday, 29.12.08): "Today at around 0500 GMT the wind dropped enough for me to lift the rudder system, and check what the problem was. I quickly discovered that the issue was on the port rudder and understood why the two rudders were not in line anymore."
 The starboard rudder is undamaged, but the port rudder which would have been fully exposed to the crashing waves when the boat was upside down is badly damaged.

Sébastien Josse. Image copyright Sébastien Josse/BT/Vendée Globe.

The bond between the carbon and titanium fitting placed at the articulation point between the rudder head and the blade, which receives the transmission bar linking the two rudders, has been broken under the extreme forces of the waves battering the boat whilst it was upside down. This failure explains the misalignment of the whole steering system, preventing BT from sailing at more than 10 knots and making a passage of the Pacific Ocean one risk too far to take.

Image copyright Sébastien Josse/BT/Vendée Globe.

The fitting that has failed is a complex element made of titanium and carbon, moulded and glued under pressure. It is challenging to laminate even under normal working conditions, and there is no possibility for Seb to repair that crucial element onboard. The result being that even if there was a spare rudder onboard, BT could not easily continue as she could only sail on one tack. Considering the strong chance of another storm before Cape Horn, with the much greater risk of losing control, and breaking the boat even more, and also in a place where rescue is nearly impossible, it is just not safe or wise to continue. "If the Pacific Ocean was behind us and not in front, maybe it would be possible to slowly make our way to the finish line regardless of performance, but that is not the case.

"These last few days since the capsize, my objective was definitely to continue the race, even if my reason for being in this race was purely to win. Not having total control of the boat means there is no way I can go back south and head for Cape Horn without gambling with my safety and that of the boat. If the boat starts to surf and I cannot prevent a wipeout because of the failed steering system, it can lead to a dismasting in a matter of seconds, not forgetting the coachroof is still quite weak and could easily be completely broken in such circumstances. Abandoning the race and heading for New Zealand is of course a huge disappointment not only for me. Now I try to to look forward, and to winning the IMOCA races in 2009. I will plot my course to New Zealand now.

"I am very disappointed, not just for me, but for everybody that has given seconds, minutes, hours and months to this project - the 'wet' team, the 'dry' team and all the sponsors especially BT and Renault. We started two years ago, and we were one of the teams in the best shape on the start line in Les Sables in November, and we can see that in the results of the race until just a few days ago. The Vendée Globe is one of the hardest challenges in the world, sometimes it lets you pass, sometimes it breaks you. I am just very sorry we can't go to the end this time."

Auckland, New Zealand, is just over 1200 miles away, but Seb will have to climb further north first to get around the top of an anticyclone and thereby allow him to sail downwind towards NZ. Only being able to use one rudder will restrict his speed, but he should be able to safely make it to land without assistance in 7 to 10 days time. The BT shore team will be there to meet him and decide the best method for repairing the boat and bring the BT IMOCA 60 back to Europe in readiness for the IMOCA 2009 season that kicks off in June alongside the BT Extreme 40 racing campaign and Ellen and BT's sustainability activities.

Below are images taken by Seb showing the extent of the damage after BT capsized in the storm. All images below are copyright Sébastien Josse/BT/Vendée Globe:

BT Seb Josse

Vendée Globe