Groupe Bel arrives in Cascais
The monohull Groupe Bel reached the port of Cascais (Portugal) at 20:00, on Monday evening, following its retirement from the Vendée Globe caused by a collision with a trawler ten hours earlier. The impact has greatly damaged the hull to the fore, and level with the mast's port anchorage point. Kito de Pavant tautened the various lines to ensure the mast stayed upright and was able to sail his boat back to Portugal under mainsail. When he docked, the skipper made an inventory of the damage on board Groupe Bel and told us how hugely disappointed he was.
A very close call
A little before the crash, the skipper, who had kept watch all night in this area of heavy traffic, decided to allow himself a few minutes' sleep. Up on deck and on screen, nobody for miles around seemed likely to cross his path. Scarcely ten minutes later, a trawler struck Groupe Bel. The fishermen were apparently not keeping watch on the VHF, and were not indicated by the AIS (real time automatic tracking system for boats). The impact broke away Groupe Bel's bowsprit to the front and the deck was torn open on the port side, only a few centimeters from the bunk in which the skipper could have slept. Fortunately, Kito had dozed off on the other size, to starboard.
Kito de Pavant on docking
"A rough day! Yet the weather conditions were easy going and my boat was running at good speed. Just before I lay down, I looked outside and then on the screen and it was OK. There was less traffic. We were in the ocean. I went to lie down and, for once, I went to the windward side (to starboard, opposite the place of impact). I collided with a trawler which ripped away the bowsprit first. The u-bolt (anchorage point) holding the outrigger (which itself holds the mast) was then driven upwards with the deck. Miraculously, the mast did not fall, even though it could have given way first. However, in this instance, it was the hull that gave way. I brought Groupe Bel back to port, because I cannot sail round the world on a boat in this state. The Vendée Globe is over for me. It will be for the others.''
The skipper is working with his technical team to decide on a schedule for the next few days.
Vidéo of Kito at his arrival in Cascais: Windreport