The time seemed to stand still in the aisles of the Nautic when, during a special link-up, Loïck Peyron recounted what had happened during the earlier dismasting with great precision: “I have no explanation as to why it happened yet… There was 30 knots of breeze and Gitana Eighty was under one reef mainsail and solent. There was no reason to put the boat under pressure and everything was going very well aboard when the mast fell violently without warning. I was down below when I heard a loud noise. Such a sound associated with such a violent sensation left me with little doubt. Indeed, on going up top, I noticed that the mast had gone” commented the solo sailor before going on to say: “The following hour involved a great deal of work. On a deck completely covered with shards of carbon, it was necessary to cut the ‘umbilical cords' which link the mast to the boat. The spar had seemingly broken into three or four pieces, and this debris was beginning to pound against the deck and the hull. There are a fair number of points of impact but there's no structural problem to report.”
For the time being, Loïck Peyron and Gitana Team are looking into the safest and most comfortable solution to go and meet up with the monohull. Three routes are open to them today: South Africa, Madagascar and Reunion or Australia. Though the first two destinations are the closest geographically (around 1,600 miles) the sailing conditions are not ideal to get there, as Gitana Eighty will have to make most of the journey against the wind. Australia, situated 3,000 miles ahead of the monohull's bow, offers a more attractive prospect as it is synonymous with making headway downwind.
As we await his definitive decision, Loïck Peyron is attempting to set up a jury rig with the boom, the daggerboards, the ORC and the mainsail sheet, which he managed to rescue: “Before night falls I'm going to try to complete my jury rig as it's not very comfortable when you're not making headway in this situation” concluded a naturally emotional Loïck Peyron, prior to rounding off the special radio session.
However, in these painful moments, the skipper from La Baule also expressed his deep disappointment for all those who had enabled him to take the start of the Vendée Globe 2008-2009: “Naturally I'm disappointed that things have ended this way, but the disappointment is collective. I am sorry for Ariane and Benjamin de Rothschild, the LCF Rothschild Group and of course the members of Gitana Team, who've worked so hard on this fine boat.”
Since the announcement of the dismasting, messages of support have been streaming in from every direction. Whether they are from journalists, simple enthusiasts or even members from competing teams, everyone is expressing their support and their admiration for Loïck Peyron's fine race in this Vendée Globe 2008-2009. A big thank you for these numerous comforting testimonies.