A problem with his rudder bearings forces Bernard Stamm into port with unfortunate consequences


Cheminées Poujoulat entered Morbihan Bay in 40-45 knot winds yesterday evening (14 December). In spite of the help given to him, the weather meant Bernard Stamm was unable to moor up where a buoy had been set up for him. Very quickly a series of events led to the 60-foot Imoca being driven ashore. The skipper was taken off safe and sound.

The bad weather during the night meant operations had to cease and the teams retired for the night to shelter in some nearby buildings. It has been reported that they would wait until this morning to decide on the best course of action.

Stamm has not had the best fortune during in Vendée Globe. In 2000 he retired after a week of racing because of pilot failure. In 2004 he lost his keel in the Transat race five months before the start of the Vendée, and so could not take part. This year after two back to back wins in the round the world race with stopovers, Bernard Stamm was one of the favourites.

But on the first night of the race, he collided with a cargo vessel and had to return to Les Sables to repair his bowsprit and mast. Setting out again three and a half days later, he had made a magnificent return to the race, before discovering a problem with his rudder bearings on Saturday (13 December).

Differences between the lead boats remained relatively stable overnight, although speeds are back in the order 17 and 18 knots for the top three this morning, signifying the return of stronger winds. Mike Golding (Ecover 3) has gained about five miles, cutting the lead of Jean-Pierre Dick to 73.1 miles as they approach the ice gate which they should reach this afternoon.

The latest big low-pressure system has given very rough conditions especially for the group including Jonny Malbon (Artemis II), Rich Wilson (Great American III) and Jean Baptiste Dejeanty (Groupe Maisnonneuve). Dejeanty has had a series of problems and slowed down.

Dee Caffari (Aviva) and Arnaud Bosssières (Akenas Verandas) are passing to the north of the Kerguelen Islands engaged in a remarkable match race with just 32 miles between them.