Vincent Riou joins Loick Peyron on board Gitana Eighty after successful Artemis rescue 21/5/08

The Artemis Transat is full of developments. The duel between Loick Peyron and Vincent Riou was cut short late yesterday afternoon when the latter alerted race management that he was requesting assistance following a keel problem.

Last night the skipper of the 60ft Vendee boat PRB seemingly hit a basking shark, the impact damaging the keel. Vincent Riou wished to abandon ship – no longer feeling safe with an impending storm forecast across the Imoca fleet tomorrow. Being the closest, Loick Peyron immediately diverted following a request from Sylvie Viant, race director. It was 1500 hours when Peyron altered his course.

In order to simplify the transfer, Vincent Riou got into his liferaft, which he had securely fastened to PRB. The rescue operation was carried out efficiently and simplified by the particularly mild weather conditions at the time. At 1725 UT, Vincent Riou was aboard Gitana Eighty. The monohull was then able to make towards Boston again, and is now leading the fleet. At the 1800 UT position report, Gitana Eighty had a 29 mile lead over Armel Le Cleac’h.

A reluctant stowaway, Vincent Riou will not be able to help the sailor from La Baule under any circumstances, either in his manoeuvres or in his choice of course. During the remaining 830 miles the skipper of Gitana Eighty will have to consider himself as being alone aboard:

“It’s the first time I’ve ended up in such a situation: sailing double-handed in a single-handed race. It’s pretty disconcerting for the time being as I was right into a very precise rhythm, making decisions automatically and with a set routine…It’s not easy, but I’m now going to have to regain my focus in order to tackle the next stage, which still promises to be fairly complicated. However, the essential thing was to recover Vincent,” confided Loick Peyron just a few minutes after the rescue.

Tomorrow the jury for The Artemis Transat should return its verdict as regards the amount of time which will be redressed to Loick Peyron for having diverted for the rescue. Whatever happens the race has now returned to centre stage.

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