The coastguards have reached Thomas Ruyant’s boat and two sailors have gone on board with a pump. Thomas told his team that he now hopes he can save his boat. They hope to reach Bluff at around 2100 UTC.

French skipper Thomas Ruyant was reassuring this morning at 1030 in a message to his shore team. ‘I have two New Zealanders aboard my boat and we’re currently setting up the pump to empty the forward compartment. I have eight knots of wind and calms seas. I think I can say that I am going to save Le Souffle du Nord and that we’ll manage to bring her safely to port. Since rounding the southern tip of New Zealand, everything has been made safe.

‘We are in sheltered waters. The boat is nose down but we are stabilising the situation. A few hours ago I thought it was all over for my mighty boat. I could no longer make headway in 45 knots of wind. I was below with one finger on the beacon button to ask to be picked up.

‘I thought I was going to lose Le Souffle du Nord forever. I rounded up every couple of minutes. I couldn’t control my boat with the damage to the steering system. The rig was limp and I no longer had any backstays. It was all hanging by a thread. After that tricky moment and rounding the famous cape, I understood that I as going to make it. There was an incredible moment of satisfaction with the sun going down along the coast of New Zealand.’

Le Souffle du Nord is due to reach Bluff at around 2100 if everything goes well, although the situation still remains tricky.

What happened?

Ruyant’s collision with an unidentified floating object on Sunday afternoon – thought to be a shipping container – represents the fifth time that a Vendée Globe competitor has struck something and been forced out of the race as a consequence in this edition.

Of the 29 IMOCA 60s on the starting line on 6 November from Les Sables d’Olonne, France, only 20 remain in contention.

The race, which is dubbed ‘the Everest of the Seas’, covers more than 23,000 miles. Race leader Armel Le Cléac’h currently has 8,178NM to go. Britain’s hope Alex Thomson is in second place, 507NM behind.

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