Sailing trips around the world are never without twists and turns, and doing them on flying maxi-trimarans rather than Imoca monohulls does not change this general truth. While he was in second position in the Ultim Challenge – a solo race around the globe aboard 32-meter-long trimarans – Tom Laperche (SVR-Lazartigue) contacted his teams on Thursday January 18 to inform a damage, which occurred around 5:30 a.m. The native of Côtes-d’Armor hit an unidentified floating object.

“The collision damaged the drift well, causing a significant water leak which remains stabilized,” race management said in a press release. “Tom Laperche is safe, and assisted by his technical team to assess the damage,” the organization reassured. The leak has now stabilized, but the skipper must assess the damage and plan repairs with his technical teams in the coming hours.

On the eleventh day of racing in this Ultim “Vendée Globe”, Tom Laperche, the youngest in the race at 26 years old, was sailing south of the Atlantic Ocean, towards the Cape of Good Hope and the Indian Ocean. Since the departure from Brest on January 7, and a breakneck start to the race, the successor and foal of François Gabart at the helm of SVR-Lazartigue has engaged in an incessant mano a mano with Charles Caudrelier (Maxi-Edmond-de -Rothschild). The latter regained the lead of the race on January 17, sharing a video showing the two skippers side by side.

An authorized technical stopover

At the gates of the Great South, Tom Laperche will have to trade the breathtaking race to lead the Ultim Challenge for a rescue or repair operation – depending on the extent of the damage. In the event of damage, participants in the race, of which this is the first edition, are authorized to make a stopover with material assistance from their team, constantly on the alert. But the regulations stipulate that, although trimarans are sometimes repaired within a few hours, these “pit stops” must last a minimum of twenty-four hours.

Armel Le Cléac’h (Maxi-Banque-Populaire-XI) is the first skipper to take advantage of this stopover, on January 14. The winner of the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe stopped in Brazil to repair his sailboat, damaged following incidents that occurred after a storm.

At 9 a.m. on January 18, Charles Caudrelier is leading the race, ahead of Tom Laperche, until now still second. Thomas Coville (Sodebo-3) is in third position. Anthony Marchand (Actual-3) and Armel Le Cléac’h are respectively fourth and fifth, ahead of Éric Péron (Adagio), whose older boat is already more than 1,800 kilometers behind and has just crossed the Ecuador.