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Atlantic storm thinning the ranks of Route de Rhum participants

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«Turbulent seas during the second day of the rum race» forced around fifty sailors to continue to seek shelter off the coasts of France and Spainor to return from the high seas to land due to occasional technical problems.

The most serious incident of the day was the capsizing of the trimaran Maxi Solo Banque Populaire IX of Vendée Globe winner Armel Le Cléac'h of France.

The blue and white vessel Le Clé was in third place in the ULTIME echelon north-east of the Azores when her right outrigger broke off in 30-35 knots of wind and five-metre waves.

The trimaran capsized. Le Claisse reported being safe inside the center hull.

«It is 450 nautical miles from Lisbonand 320 miles from Punta Delgada, which isa little closer to the Azores. It's too far for a helicopter, but we know, thanks to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, that a plane flew out to it to scout the situation. Armel is ok, he is getting ready to evacuate»," said race director Jacques Caraës .

Le Clais was picked up by a fishing boat around 20:30 UTC. It will take the yachtsman to Spain.

This is the second coup Le Clais has experienced this year. He found himself in a similar situation in April while training in Morocco.

But Armel Le Clais wasn't the only one unlucky that day. Franco-German competitor Isabelle Joschke, who went seventh in the IMOCA division, and one of the CLASS40 favourites Briton Sam Goodchild were left without a match. Both of them will have to return toFrance.

«I am extremely disappointed. But my goal for the Route de Rhum was to have no regrets. To be honest, looking back, I don't think I could have done anything different»," Goodchild shared.

He managed «to fix» the mast with a boom and a storm sail to make it to Brest on his own.

Frenchman Fabrice Amedeo also expects to return to Brittanyin the next couple of days. On his IMOCA Newrest-Art et Fenetres, the bowsprit was damaged. When the yachtsman noticed the malfunction, he was 140 nautical miles from the traffic separation zone of Spanish La Coruña. In 18-20 knot winds and 4-5 meter waves, Amedeo was sailing on the reefed mainsail and J3 jib. The cause of the breakdown is unclear: the yachtsman did not notice any impact.

Another IMOCA echelon competitor, Frenchman Yannick Bestaven, had to make a technical stop in Cascais, Portugal to repair the mainsail hoist rail on his Maitre-Côq. At the time of writing he has already slipped from 7th to 12th place.

Due to a hull separation of her IMOCA, Britain's Sam Davies is searching for the nearest safe harbour. She notified shore crew around four in the afternoon UTC on Tuesday that she'd discovered the hull had buckled.

She was alarmed by the strange sounds the hull was making.

Naval architects explained to Davis that the deformation may have been caused by large waves tossing her yacht inthe Bay of Biscay. The woman's safety is not threatened, but if she decides to go to Brest, she will have about 430 nautical miles to cover.

Finally, Briton Phil Sharp, sailing third in CLASS40, had to deal with a torn spinnaker halyard that could not take the strain Monday night.

«The sail went straight into the water. I stopped the boat and quickly got it out. I hope I got it out in time before something broke»," said Sharp.

The halyard is vital to the Briton's setting of the small and medium spinnaker, the most important sails for the Route de Rhum. Sharp had to climb up the mast immediately to begin the repairs as the sea was forecast to pick up over the next few days, so there was no hope of it calming down anytime soon.

At the time of writing, the leaders in their respective divisions were: François Gabart (ULTIME), Alex Thomson (IMOCA), Thibaut Vauchel-Camus (MULTI50), Yoann Richomme (CLASS40), Pierre Antoine (RHUM MULTI) andSidney Gavignet, RHUM MONO.

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