A cracked keel has forced third-placed Roland Jourdain to retire from the Vendee Globe

Roland Jourdain talking from his stricken yacht says: “It’s all over, there is no way I can continue. The hardest thing is having to head north. I really don’t want to push the helm north.”

Sadly, Sill et Veolia suffered irreparable damage to the keel early this morning and has a horizontal crack on the port side of her keel which is now visible at the front and on the starboard side.

Under the effect of the hydraulic ram, a black carbon liquid is oozing out of the cracks. “I don’t know where it’s going to end,” said a devastated Jourdain. “I didn’t touch anything. There was no impact. I can’t understand it at all. Even if I lose this damn keel the boat shouldn’t capsize. I’ve considerably reduced the sail area and I’ve filled the ballasts with sea water. I’ve just got to head towards New Zealand now and watch my friends continue their course. It’s a crushing blow as we have been preparing for this race for the past four years, with our sights on victory. We were really in the match and now the sky has fallen in on us…” The depression which has enabled the four lead boats to group back together is blowing itself out. It has passed Josse and Golding who are currently sailing in an easing north-north-westerly wind. A little further ahead, Riou-Le Cam will hold onto a little more pressure a little longer. Ahead of them is a strange cocktail of low pressure to the south of New Zealand and it looks very much like there will be a toll for passing into the Pacific Ocean.

Jean Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec) has decided to gybe. He is climbing up towards the first gateway of the Indian Ocean to the south-west of Australia. For him, like Dominique Wavre (Temenos), well isolated between the leading group and his pursuers some 500 miles back, it looks like a quiet day ahead in regular west-south-westerly winds. Meantime the situation for the Seeten (Arcelor Dunkerque)-Carpentier (VM Matériaux) duo looks considerably more complicated. They are sailing immediately next to each other in the heart of the depression centred not far off the Heard Islands. This is filling in and will blow up to 60 knots from the south-west, with gusts of 80 knots! The forecast suggests seas of 6-8 metres and it is clearly going to be an escape mission for Joé and Patrice.

Anne Liardet (Roxy) and Benoit Parnaudeau (Max Havelaar-Best Western) are taking shelter to let the bulk of the depression pass in front of them. They are currently facing very crossed seas in strong winds, a situation which is also presenting itself to Karen Leibovici (Benefic) and Raphaël Dinelli (Akena Verandas) to the north of the Crozet Islands. 650 miles from the Kerguelen Islands, they shouldn’t be affected by the evolution of the depression as they will pass to the north of the archipelago