After bouncing off a fishing boat in bad visibility and damaging his port shroud very early this morning, Louis Burton indicated this afternoon that he intends to sail the 700 miles back to the start to try and effect a suitable repair in Les Sables d'Olonne. .
The skipper of Bureau Vallée believes his ascent back across the Bay of Biscay will take him around four days. The race rules prescribe that the start line closes at 1302hrs on the Tuesday 20th of November. According to him their biggest hurdle is having to replace the custom shroud itself, the manufacture of which would normally take three weeks.
The weather is due to ease for his passage back to Les Sables d’Olonne but his immediate problem is that he cannot tack on to port. Burton said:
“ My main emotion is just shock and I am pretty depressed that I have to get back to Les Sables d’Olonne.
In fact I was going through the front and had a couple of hours to go and had 30-35kts of wind. There was very poor visibility, rough seas and I had the radar and the AIS on. I was under the canopy to nap a bit and was making about 20kts. I turned my head bit and so a medium sized trawler slide along the hull. I grabbed a light to inspect the hull in a panic to see if it was OK. I was relieved but then saw the damage to the shroud. I tacked on to starboard immediately and focused first on Lisbon looking to get to land as quickly as possible.
At dawn I took some photos and sent them to the technical team to give them an indication of the level and type of damage. For sure the damage is just too much to continue like this. There might be a way to get back to Les Sables d’Olonne and away on time, but we need to make a custom piece which will not be easy because it usually takes about three weeks. For the moment I'm confident. I'm trying to get the boat back to Les Sables as quickly as possible, taking into account I can't change tack without the risk of capsizing I will try to get back to Les Sables d’Olonne as quickly as possible to save as much time for the repair.
I am still 700 miles from Les Sables d’Olonne. The conditions will weaken as of tomorrow. The routing I have just now has me getting there is four days but there are tacks on to port which I cant really make and so I am not really sure how long it will take me.
It hurts a lot because of the big investment for so long, with all the sponsors like Bureau Vallée, for the whole team. It is such a shock, a feeling of injustice. Of course it is part of the sport but a setback like this is not easy to deal with. You just don’t believe it will happen.”