Jean-Pierre Dick carries on despite losing his keel

Despite losing his keel with 2,000 miles to the finish line in Les Sables d’Olonne, Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) has not abandoned and is working out what to do next. He can talk on the satphone to others, but in the end he is alone at sea - the competitor and the sailor. How important is it to finish? This is his third Vendée Globe. He made it home first time round in 2004-05, but was forced out with rudder damage in the last race. He started as one of the favourites for this race. He has lost the chance of third place, but fourth and a hero’s welcome in the Les Sables d’Olonne canal pulls him. What is he prepared to risk to cover the 2,000 miles and close the circle?

Dick is still making good speed in the third place, heading north an easterly wind of 13-14 knots making top speeds of 11 knots, 170 miles ahead of Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss). But the challenge will come if he is faced with bigger winds and particularly rougher, cross seas, that he could face, especially in the Bay of Biscay.

“It is a shame to lose the keel at this stage of the race. About the outcome, I do not know yet, we'll see what will happen if I continue running or not. Currently, I am still in the race, I did not give up. The mast is there, as are the sails, the boat floats and I took a little advice from a specialist in the field, called Marco (Guillemot).

I called him and he gave me some tips. For now I have a lot of ballast filled in my boat and I think I'm in good conditions. The boat is safe enough not to capsize if there is gust of wind. It is always impressive is true but the boat always moves between 11 and 12 knots. We are going at least to the Azores at first.”

Thomson, the skipper with most to gain from Dick’s loss, he should move up into third place in the next two days, expressed his sympathy and shock. He also called for changes to the IMOCA class. “Enough is enough, the keels need to be made of solid steel and last the life of the boat, before someone gets hurt.”

Race leader Francois Gabart (MACIF) finally stemmed the trickle of miles to Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire). Gabart took back nearly five miles in the four hours since the last ranking and leads by 118 miles. In a finish that looks likely to come down to a matter of hours, each mile is significant. Gabart was averaging 15.1 knots to Le Cléac’h’s 14.6. Dick is 494 miles further back and west.

Vendee Globe - Rankings Wednesday, 23 January 2013, 07:00 hrs (UK)
1. Macif, François Gabart
2. Banque Populaire, Armel Le Clac'h, 118 nm to the leader
3. Virbac Paprec 3, Jean-Pierre Dick 512 nm
4. HUGO BOSS, Alex Thomson, 682 nm
5. SynerCiel, Jean Le Cam, 2277 nm
6. Gamesa, Mike Golding, 2291 nm
7. Mirabaud, Dominique Wavre, 2555 nm
8. Acciona 100% EcoPowered, Javier Sansó, 2636 nm
9. AKENA Vérandas, Arnaud Boissières, 2692 nm
10. Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM Projets, Bertrand de Broc, 2993 nm
11. Initiatives-coeur, Tanguy De Lamotte, 3346 nm
12. Team Plastique, Alessandro Di Benedetto, 4095 nm