Terrible news today.  Jérémie Beyou, skipper of the Vendée Globe yacht Delta Dore, is unable to repair the damage to his sailboat and has officially retired from the Vendée Globe. Beyou reached the Brazilian port of Recife early this morning, and indentified five separate problems with his rig, including broken titanium spreader attachments that he cannot repair unaided.

Jérémie Beyou said today: “The sea really did its work on the rigging, which had already been damaged.  It would seem impossible to see her sailing again quickly and safely. The hardest part was when I discovered the damage three days ago: being forced to retire in a contest where I was doing well breaks my heart.”

Read more here: Jérémie Beyou Retires from Vendée Globe

Vendée Globe

Vendée Globe

For the rest of the skippers it’s business as usual on Day 17 of the Vendée Globe, with most of the fleet enduring wet, noisy and slamming conditions as they continue their route south in an easterly breeze.

Besides coping with the bone-shaking impact as the boats repeatedly launch off waves and land in the troughs, responding quickly to the ever-changeable conditions is vital to staying on the pace.

Variable winds have been reported right across the fleet, with leader Loick Peyron experiencing very irregular winds of 14-17 knots, while sixth-placed Mike Golding yesterday discovered a patch of light airs which saw Ecover 3 park up briefly. However, a good day today saw Golding close up on fifth placed Riou, now just 11.4 miles ahead. Sam Davies also reported she had been sailing in everything from 6 knots to 32-knot squalls over the past 24 hours, with constant sail changes part of the daily routine for all.

First placed Loïck Peyron has extended away again since yesterday evening, now 18.3 miles from Seb Josse (BT) in second, while the rest of the leading bunch — Jean-Pierre Dick, Armel Le Cleac’h and Vincent Riou remain within 60 miles of the front-runner.

Dominque Wavre (Temenos II) has overtaken British skipper Brian Thomson on this afternoon’s 1500hr (GMT) rankings, going into 11th place as the pair thread their way through the islands of Trindad and St Martin Vaz. Safran’s storming run continues, eating up over 300 miles in 24 hours for 10th-placed Marc Guillemot.

However, many skippers are less concerned about their position relative to other boats, and more concerned about their position relative to the large high pressure system still blocking their way to the south-east. The changeable conditions and gusty squalls are courtesy of the same front which will then offer up light winds to the leading half of the fleet as they enter the high — possibly allowing the chasing pack to close up on their advantage.

Sylvain Mondon from Météo France explained this morning that the high-pressure area centred off Uruguay is in the process of collapsing as it moves eastwards, but another high further south will be replacing it this weekend.  The leaders can expect to slow down over Thursday and Friday, before finally getting the chance to hoist the spinnakers and head downwind this weekend in moderate north-easterlies. But it is likely to be the chasing pack who are likely to accelerate first, possibly to within 100 miles of the leaders — incredibly, we could yet see the race virtually restarting as the first 15 or so boats leave the Atlantic.

Vendée Globe Top 15 Rankings

Updated November 26, 2008

  1. Loick Peyron, Gitana Eighty
  2. Sébastien Josse – BT
  3. Jean-Pierre Dick, Paprec Virbac 2
  4. Armel Le Cléac´h – Brit Air
  5. Vincent Riou, PRB
  6. Yann Eliès – Generali
  7. Roland Jourdain – Veolia Environnement
  8. Mike Golding, Ecover 3
  9. Jean Le Cam – VM Matériaux
  10. Marc Guillemont – Safran
  11. Brian ThompsonPindar
  12. Dominique Wavre – Temenos
  13. Samantha DaviesRoxy
  14. Michel DesjoyeauxFoncia
  15. Dee CaffariAviva
Vendee Globe

Vendee Globe

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