PRB collides with buoy

Further casualty in the Vendee Globe as Vincent Riou's yacht suffers hull and shroud damage

Saturday November 24th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

At 6:00 UTC this morning, PRB skipper Vincent Riou advised his shore team that his yacht had been involved in a collision with a floating object.

Riou was at the chart table at the time and shot on deck to discover that PRB had struck a large metal buoy.

Following this collision, Riou found that the hull of his boat had been damaged and was delaminating over a one metre area on the starboard side three metres back from the bow.

Riou was not injured in the collision. He is waiting for daybreak to assess the damage and the possibility of effecting a repair.

Conditions are good with the wind between 12 and 15 knots. The position of the buoy has been reported to other competitors.

Riou reported: "This morning around 0445 UTC, I was at ​​the chart table analysing the first file weather of the day. At 0500, there was a big impact and PRB stopped, I heard a loud noise of breaking. I ran out. I saw a large circular buoy, which was a big pile of rust. I hurriedly stopped the boat, I went to the front of the boat and found that the boat was seriously damaged on the starboard side 4-5m back from the bow. The affected area is in the middle of the vertical part of the topsides so it is at the leve of the water when the boat is heeled to 20°. The damage is exactly 1.3m long.

"My priority is to find ways to make a solid repair and continue the Vendée Globe in safely. I need to be sure to take on the Southern Ocean in total confidence with my boat. The situation is really difficult because there is no land nearby where I might be able to make this repair more easily. It is repairable, but under what conditions and with what risks knowing that I have to go around Antarctica. This is what I'm currently evaluating."

Below is a photo of the damage showing where the outer laminate and also much of the honeycomb core was carved out by the buoy.

Since then Riou has carried out a complete check of the boat and to his alarm has also discovered that the carbon fibre shroud attached to the end of PRB's starboard deck spreader is also severely damaged (see below). The French skipper is in contact with the engineer with whom he worked on the mast and rigging calculations so get a feel for the impact oif sailing with the damaged shroud.

"The news is not good," Riou continues. "I'm not far from finding a solution to fixing it reliably, but it will take a lot of time. There are plenty of gusts and moisture on the bridge here but it is 30°C. The composite will cure when it is hot and humid. The second part, the damaged shroud is being analysed on a computer - I am trying to analyse the most efficient solution possible."

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