Vendee Globe Newsflash: Virbac-Paprec 3 loses its keel

Jean Pierre Dick, Virbac Paprec 3 in better times - 2012 Vendee Globe

Vendee Globe have just announced that Virbac-Paprec 3 has lost her keel, while sailing in the third position of the Vendée Globe, about 500 miles northwest of the Cape Verde islands.

Jean Pierre Dick, Virbac Paprec 3 - 2012 Vendee Globe
Jean-Pierre Dick called his team to inform them that his boat, Virbac-Paprec 3, had lost her whole keel at 2245hrs UTC. The skipper from Nice has stabilised the situation. The boat has full ballasts and Dick is sailing at 8 knots towards the Azores.

Jean-Pierre Dick told the race office by satellite phone:

'I was sailing on starboard tack under mainsail with one reef and the solent (sail), in 20 knots of wind. I was inside when the wind increased suddenly. I went out to adjust the sails. At that moment, I heard a loud bang.

Virbac-Paprec 3 went to the luff and was pushed on its side. I eased the mainsail sheet and solent sheet. I furled it (the solent). I went to the end of the boom and eased the running backstay. I went downwind smoothly and the boat slowly went back into the right position. I filled all the ballasts to stabilise the boat.

I am heading to the Azores at 8 knots with two reefs in the mainsail and with a staysail. The situation is stabilised and I think that there is no risk of capsizing. My dream of a podium finish in the Vendée Globe has suddenly sunk.'

Updates will follow