« As dawn broke this morning, I had two reefs in the main and the staysail up, with Banque Populaire to leeward. I'd decided to use the automatic pilot a little to get some rest after a rather busy night spent making up for the 40 minute penalty stop after the start.
I heard two impacts and went to see if the crossbeam had suffered damage. In fact, the daggerboard had snapped clean off at the point where it enters the hull. I hauled on the helm straight away to bear away towards La Trinité sur Mer as it is impossible to perform well upwind without this appendage. There was never any question of my being in danger with this damage. However, I did fly high on one float during the day and the night as I had a lot of canvas up to try and make my way up the fleet. I had 25-26 knots of NW wind around 6h00 UT when it happened.
I'm really disappointed as the race had got off to a good start. The Gitana Team had worked really well - Luc Poupon and Yann Guichard were doing a good job on the routing front. There are only two single-handed transatlantic races every four years. It's not something to be taken lightly, even if you always have a bit of a knot in your stomach before setting out. There's a sort of emptiness… It's tough to go through all the preparation for a race like this one and then have to call it a day.
Until a few minutes ago, (10H30 French time), we had thought we'd use Bonduelle's daggerboard which Jean Le Cam very kindly offered to lend us. But when we worked it all out, even pulling out all the stops, we'd still be 700 miles behind the fleet. So the Gitana Team and I have decided to withdraw as that would mean being two days behind the others ! We're going to get our heads down and concentrate on the rest of the programme to make repairs and fit a new daggerboard for the Québec-Saint Malo. »