Thomas Coville sailing the 60ft trimaran Sodebo is retiring with structural damage

Until yesterday Thomas Coville, sailing the 60ft trimaran Sodebo, had been leading the storm-lashed fleet. He has just announced that he is retiring from the solo race with structural damage to his boat’s crossbeams. His support team reports:     

For the moment, the boat like the skipper is not in danger, but Thomas Coville would rather take shelter in a Portuguese port  (Lisbon normally but this will depend on the seas and the wind which are set to shift round from the North West to the North soon) to preserve the structure.  The sea is once again very big and the wind is now blowing above 35 knots.

” We have been experiencing crazily strong waves for several days, there are no words to describe the conditions.  When they hit the boat, Sodebo was thrown sideways by several metres” explained Thomas this morning who has spent the last two days negotiating the waves as best he can barepoled except for a storm jib. “These incredibly violent waves have damaged the under part of the exterior coating of the forebeam of the boat.  I am forced to bear away to relieve the boat.  The starboard forebeam has been considerably weakened by a hole of about 50 centimetres on the side where the exterior coating is delaminated.  The port beam is less affected.  

The impact of the waves has also pulled off the starboard aft trampoline”. The boat is currently sailing on starboard tack, supported by the port float. This morning, the skipper of Sodebo was still hoping to be able to continue the race.  He had rehoisted his mainsail after having worked on it for over 5 hours. ” I have changed the upper battens which broke two days ago.  Hoisting the mainsail on your own when it is more than 180 metres square in a similar sea state to those that we had before is backbreaking”.  The skipper of Sodebo had once again not slept during the night.