Riou pulls out of Vendee Globe
PARIS (AFP) –
Former winner Vincent Riou became the seventh skipper to pull out of the Vendee Globe yacht race a day after tearing a hole in his hull when colliding with a metallic bouy, his team announced on Sunday.
“It was a tough decision but the only reasonable one,” said Riou.
He had been in third place in the solo round-the-world race early Saturday and was in hot pursuit of a second win after his victory in the event in 2004-2005.
But all that changed when he heard a sudden loud crack in the early hours of Saturday while racing off the coast of Brazil.
“I heard the collision at 05h00, a huge cracking sound, and the boat is badly damaged with a 130 centimetre rip down the right side, four or five metres from the stern,” explained Riou on Saturday.
He was uninjured in the accident but was deeply concerned about his ability to find solid repair solutions out in the open seas before entering the treacherous upcoming waters.
“I need to feel complete confidence in the boat before we go out into the South Sea,” explained the 40-year-old sailor.
“I was feeling really good about this race, the boat had real potential and I know that in the South Seas this year the race is going to be really quite something, I would have loved to have been a part of that,” he said on Sunday.
Fifteen days after leaving Les Sables d’Olonne, the race’s departure point on the west coast of France, just 13 of the 18m single-hull vessels remain after Samantha Davies, Louis Burton, Marc Guillemot, Kito de Pavant, Jeremie Beyou and Zbigniew Gutkowski all previously pulled out too.
Armel le Cleac’h leads the race after 15 days of the two months sailing marathon 56 nautical miles ahead of Francois Gabart and 60 ahead of third placed Jean-Pierre Dick.