Unidentified Floating Objects (UFO, or OFNI in french) are a big concern in this Vendee Globe. They already caused the retirements of Vincent Riou and Morgan Lagriviere and foil issues for Alex Thomson. Today it’s the time for Kito de Pavant. The french solo sailor is experiencing a serious damage aboard his Bastide Otio following a big shock to the keel. Below the last news sent by VG headquarters:
At 0800 UTC this morning (Tuesday), the Vendée Globe Race Directors were alerted by Kito de Pavant’s technical team about serious damage aboard his boat Bastide Otio. Kito de Pavant, who was sailing at 16 knots under mainsail with two reefs in very heavy seas, informed his shore team that the boat had experienced a very big shock to the keel, hitting an unidentified floating object, which has led to a significant ingress of water aboard the boat.
Contacted by telephone, Kito de Pavant declared, “I hit something hard with the keel. It was a violent shock and the boat came to a standstill. The rear bearings of the keel were ripped off and the keel is hanging under the boat kept in place simply by the keel ram, which is in the process of cutting through the hull… The keel housing has been destroyed and there is a huge ingress of water there, but for the moment, it is limited to the engine compartment. I currently have forty knots of wind and 5-6m high waves. The boat is stopped. I brought down the mainsail so that she is heeling less. The situation has been stabilised for the moment. I have my survival kit alongside me. Someone is going to have to come and get me. I am trying to contact the Marion Dufresne to ask them to come here.”
The Vendée Globe Race Directors immediately alerted the MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Center) Gris Nez to inform them of the damage and to organise the rescue.
The rescue centre has been in contact with the Marion Dufresne, which is currently 110 miles north of Kito de Pavant’s location to the north of the Crozet Islands. The Marion Dufresne is expected to reach the area in around ten hours.