Smashed teeth on ’hell of a night’ on high seas

November 08, 2016 - 11:37
Skipper Alex Thomson sails onboard his class Imoca monohull "Hugo Boss" on November 6. — AFP Photo
Viet Nam News


PARISFiendish winds on the round-the-world yacht race dubbed the Everest of the Seas left one sailor with a broken tooth and another rattled by a sleepless "hell of a first night".

Welshman Alex Thomson saw his early Vendee Globe lead evaporate on Monday as Frenchman Armel Le Cleac’h slipped past him almost 30 hours into the gruelling, solo non-stop challenge.

This year’s eighth edition, over 21,638 nautical miles, takes in the three great CapesGood Hope, Leeuwin and the Hornand sees a new technical advance in "Dali moustache" lifting foils, which seven of the participants are debuting this year.

The appendage helps lift the boats above the water in a dragster effect to increase dynamic power and lighten the vessel. The leading three racers were all using the device.

But strong northerly winds off France’s west coast made it a rough introduction for the sailors, hours after 29 skippers from 10 countries set off from the French port of Les Sables d’Olonne.

"That was a hell of a first night," said Frenchman Paul Meilhat, standing sixth. "Had to change the sail twice and I didn’t sleep much nor eat."

Jeremie Beyou, eighth after day one, suffered a broken tooth after his rudder blade flipped up and threw him off balance.

"I fell on the winch and broke a tooth. Had to call the doc," he said.

If the previous seven racesheld every four years since 1989are anything to go by only about half the field will return to Les Sables d’Olonne.

The Vendee Globe has in its history claimed three lives. AFP