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      Severe conditions and hard racing are slowly taking their toll on the
single-handed skippers in the Transat. Early yesterday evening while 100 miles from the centre of an intense North Atlantic depression a rogue wave completely rolled Jean-Pierre Dick's Open 60 Virbac. Dick himself, down below at the time was okay.

"I was in one of the back compartments on the leeward side so when this happened I wasn't too high. I made a turn and hurt myself a little on the bulkhead. If I had been outside I would have been in a very bad situation."

Sadly his boat was less fortunate and during the roll Virbac's mast and boom were destroyed as was the top of her cockpit cuddy. This was Jean-Pierre Dick's third dismasting in four transatlantic races.

Today while Dick has been attempting to erect a jury rig, Scarborough
print and internet company Pindar have been mounting a rescue attempt. Their North Sea coaster and party vessel, the Hatherleigh, currently in Portsmouth, is being scrambled to intercept Virbac. Currently the ship's manager is flying back from Holland, the ngineer coming down from Scotland, while her regular skipper plus BT Global Challenge skipper, Andy Dare along with one of the Virbac shore crew will be among the crew. The Hatherleigh is expected to depart tomorrow afternoon. She can make 10 knots, no matter what the weather, and based on an average of 240 miles a day and depending upon Virbac's progress east, Andrew Pindar
reckons they will reach Virbac in four days.

While British skipper Mike Golding had taken over the lead of the Open 60 shortly before this incident, this morning has seen New Zealander Mike Sanderson on board Pindar AlphaGraphics move to the fore. This afternoon Sanderson, Golding and Vincent Riou on board PRB are heading south in increasingly light winds - in stark contrast to the 50-60 knot caning they received last night.

"Conditions were extremely bad. I had wind speeds of 45-50 knots straight on the nose and a very very large sea with some really really big breakers amongst it - one every 20 minutes," counted Golding.
"The feeling on board is not very nice, but the boats are so light
they just ride up over the waves." During this crashing around
Golding says a massively over-speced 27 ton strop holding the bottom of his large 'Code Eco' foresail broke.

VMI skipper Sebastien Josse, lying sixth in the Open 60s came close to a similar fate to Virbac. "The boat planted itself into the wave in front and went from 18 to 4 knots," said Josse. "It buried up to the mast and I believed it was going to pitchpole. I must say that two hours later I am still in a state of shock and have decided to head south to look for easier conditions."

Further back in the Open 60 fleet Charles Hedrich on Objectif 3 reported that his engine had stopped working and, unable to charge the batteries, he is nearly out of power... This brings a host of problems for Hedrich such as not being able to use his water ballast system, nor the electronics, comms and autopilot. Hedrich says he has no obvious solution but has not given up...

In the ORMA 60 multihulls, overnight leader Michel Desjoyeaux on board Geant had extended his lead to more than 100 miles over second placed Thomas Coville. This afternoon Geant had closed to within 30 miles of the informal ice exclusion zone the ORMA skippers agreed upon 24 hours ago.

Although the multihulls have been tackling a much lighter depression
than the monohulls experienced last night, wear and tear is being
experienced by both skippers and boats.

The prospects for Lalou Roucayrol's Transat took a major turn for the
worst earlier when his mainsail shredded. The sail is so badly damaged that Roucayrol says he is unable to fix it. Meanwhile, the storm jib has blown apart on Steve Ravussin's Banque Covefi.

The mostly alarming incident occurred to Sodebo skipper Thomas Coville who was knocked unconscious when his speeding trimaran struck a submerged object, most likely to have been a small whale. Coville says he was waiting for the wind to shift so he could tack when the wind had piped up to 36 knots. His trimaran was travelling at 22-23 knots and Coville was in the process of taking in his third reef when the collision occurred.

Coville at the time was winching and facing aft to protect himself
from the constant spray, and upon the impact was thrown forward and banged his head hard on the companionway top knocking himself unconscious. The skipper takes up the story: "I do not know how long I was unconscious for. It might have been a few seconds or a few minutes. I couldn't see or hear anything. Then there was sound and a sharp pain on the temple that made me look around. I could see the boat was in good shape and the mast too. My third reef was looking at me smiling stupidly [the shape the folds of mainsail were making]. I stood up and touched my head. Thankfully I had the neoprene hood of my survival suit on. I peeled off the hood to check my head was okay.

"The boat had stopped...or nearly. I took a light to check the
daggerboard...for me the race seemed to be over. In the fluorescent part of the water I could see a large white object around the daggerboard so I decided to lift it up because the object was stuck and I couldn't manoeuvre. I dropped the mainsail and the jib and I decided to lift up the daggerboard beyond it's normal limit with a halyard. As I did this I ould feel the boat break free and we were off again." The whale - if it was a whale - had become lodged between the trimaran daggerboard and rudder.

Coville spoke to his router Christian Dumard soon afterwards.
"Thomas was quite confused when he called us the first time because he had been unconscious and he didn't understand what happened and the night was very dark, so he couldn't understand to start with what was going on. After a while he remembered whyhe was taking his reef and everything came back."


For latest positions go to http://www.thetransat.com and click on the
'Latest Race Data/Latest Positions' on the orange bar and then click
on leaderboard. Positions are available daily every 2 hours from

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