Vendée Globe 8th placed Le Souffle du Nord pour Le Projet Imagine, skippered by Thomas Ruyant, collided with a UFO 15:45 UTC on Sunday.
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Ruyant then discovered water had entered the sail locker in the bow.
The incident also caused damage to the starboard rudder, the bottom frame as well as some other structural damage in particular to the deck of the boat.
Monday morning Ruyant had his stricken IMOCA Le Souffle du Nord pour le Projet Imagine hove to.
With the headsail backed and his mainsail down, as he rode out the worst of the weather.
He is now heading the 200 miles towards Bluff, the southernmost town of New Zealand, under engine.
The sailor from NE France is fine and has not yet asked for assistance.
He is reported to have already prepared his safety gear in case the situation worsens.
At the time of the incident, he was sailing in winds blowing in excess of forty knots and on very heavy seas.
The two race leaders (Armel Le Cléac'h on Banque Populaire VIII and Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss) are now sailing in entirely different weather systems, split by a ridge of high pressure.
Thomson is compromised on port tack and unable to use his damaged starboard foil.
Armel Le Cléac'h has passed the symbolic 500 mile barrier over the British sailor. Latest routing predicts the Frenchman will reach Cape Horn two days earlier than his closest rival.
LEADING POSITIONS at 05:00 hrs UTC Monday:
1. Armel Le Cléac’h on Banque Populaire VIII - DTG 8717 nm - sailing at 19 knots
2. Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss - DTL 511 nm - sailing at 14 knots
3. Paul Meilhat on SMA - DTL 1303 nm
4. Jeremie Beyou on Maitre Coq - DTL 1334 nm
6. Jean-Pierre Dick on StMichel-Virbac - DTL 1957 nm
5. Yann Elies on Quigunnier - DTL 1977 nm
7. Jean Le Cam on Finistere Mer Vent - DTL 2006 nm
8. Thomas Ruyant on Le Souffle du Nord - DTL 3085 nm under engine
Fleet spread is now 6,822 nm back to Sebastien Destremau in 21st.
Eight have now retired from the race.
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18 December 2016 23:11 GMT