Beyou abandons Vendee Globe for a second time

Broken keel ram cannot be fixed without outside assistance

Monday November 19th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

"They say that the real champions are those who can fight back. I'm going to, but there it will take me a little time..." said Jeremie Beyou this morning, his message tinged with anger and sadness as he announced his retirement from the 2012-3 Vendee Globe. After Maitre Coq's titanium keel ram broke at 23:55 UTC on Saturday, while sailig downwind in 25 knots, it have since proved impossible to repair, even temporarily and with the majority of the lap of the planet ahead of him, the French double Solitaire du Figaro had been forced to abandon his second Vendee Globe. This follows on from his being forced to pull out of the 2008-9 race when his boat Delta Dore suffered spreader damage. 

Beyou had managed to secure the backing of Maitre Coq just ten months out from the start of the Vendee Globe and had a boat with winning pedigree - as Foncia in the hands of Michel Desjoyeaux, his Farr design won the 2008-9 solo non-stop round the world race.

Yesterday Beyou attempted to rig a running repair but even hi-tech rope is unable to withstand the tons of load that a titanium ram normally can. An alternative would be to lock the keel in its centre position but the skipper is unwilling to sail around the world with the boat in that configuration and the boat is not designed to be sailed this way and it might lead to additional technical problems.

"The diagnosis is clear: the way I tied up the keel head yesterday is the best way to tie it as it allowed me to get the boat away from the coast. However, the analysis we did last night and into the early morning, is that it cannot operate the keel, you will just break the rope. This does not make a Vendée Globe possble or going to the Southern Ocean. And even sailing under power, it does not work.

"So to be clear, I have removed my engine seal and have headed to the island of Saint Vincent, where my shore crew is waiting for me. The race is over.

"I am feeling a lot of frustration and disappointment ... I'm disappointed also for all those who have trusted me: Stéphane Sallé (head of Maitre CoQ) first of all and all the people who have been sending me messages, the breeder partners of Maitre CoQ who are all behind me. I'm angry. This would not have happened. When this happened, I was so nervous that I was laughing, I could not believe it. After that I was in total excitement, completely focused on the repair. Yesterday, all day, I was unable to sleep. There was plenty to do until I ended up collapsing asleep. This morning, I feel better, my mind is cleared

"The immediate challenge will be to get into the port, as there is only just enough draft. Then we'll have to take everything apart which will not be an easy task, because everything is a little twisted. A hydraulic supplier will come and we will appraise it all. It will take some time."

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