26 skippers remain in the solo, non-stop round-the-world race after Isabelle Joschke retires due to keel damage. Winner expected from 29 January

Isabelle Joschke, skipper of MACSF, was forced to retire from the Vendée Globe last night after her keel broke free of the temporary ram that had held it in place for nearly a week. The Franco-German skipper had been lying 11th in the South Atlantic, having sailed over 21,000 miles on the water and with less than 5,700 miles to go.

“I am bitterly disappointed, so sad not to be able to finish this course,” she said. “But I am proud. Proud of sailing this far and proud of my race. Proud to have rounded the three capes.”

Still fighting through 5m swells and Force 7-9 winds, Joschke spent the night bailing and pumping out the boat.

“I have managed to stem the flow of water. Now the most important thing is to get to a port and safety and to get myself to safety. I am extremely sad to have to retire. I think the Vendée Globe has been cruel to me.”

26 Skippers remaining

There are now 26 skippers still racing, 13 west of Cape Horn and 13 climbing the Atlantic. Any one of five skippers can still win this race, advised Jean Pierre Dick on the French Vendée Globe Live show yesterday. With less than 5,000 miles to go, the leaders are passing Itajai in southern Brazil, the finish port of the Transat Jacques Vabre, and therefore retracing a now-familiar climb back to France, which many sailed solo last year after the end of the two-handed race to Brazil.

The next 48 hours – and the passage of the cold front at Cabo Frio by Rio – is going to be pivotal. Second place sailor Charlie Dalin, who is 224 miles behind leader Yannick Bestaven, explains:

“The passages in this cold front vary from model to model, it is not easy to find the right route. It will be the key moment, the last hurdle before the trade winds… This front is going to redistribute the cards one way or another.”

Behind Bestaven and Dalin are Seguin, Ruyant and Burton, who will group even tighter, putting the leader under real pressure. The winner is expected at Les Sables d’Olonne from January 29.

To the Horn and beyond

Meanwhile, Arnaud Boissières, Alan Roura, Jérémie Beyou and British sailor Pip Hare are on course for Cape Horn, ending a very hard time across the South Pacific. The conditions are still anticipated to be difficult, with a freezing southerly wind and rough weather expected to last almost as far as the Falklands Islands for the four IMOCAs.

Boissières, who is passing the Horn for the fourth time, says, “I’ll be happy to get out of this Pacific! But I know that the Horn is a still a long way to the finish, we are still in the south after the course, we must continue to be careful and remain vigilant”.

Current skipper rankings


1 FRA 17 Yannick Bestaven, Maître Coq IV
2 FRA 79 Charlie Dalin APIVIA
3 FRA 59 Thomas Ruyant LinkedOut
4 FRA 1000 Damien Seguin Groupe APICIL
5 FRA 18 Louis Burton Bureau Vallée 2
6 MON 10 Boris Herrmann Seaexplorer – Yacht Club De Monaco
7 FRA 09 Benjamin Dutreux OMIA – Water Family
8 ITA 34 Giancarlo Pedote Prysmian Group
9 FRA 01 Jean Le Cam Yes we Cam !
10 FRA 53 Maxime Sorel V And B Mayenne
11 FRA 02 Armel Tripon L’Occitane en Provence
12 FRA 30 Clarisse Cremer Banque Populaire X
13 FRA 49 Romain Attanasio Pure – Best Western Hotels and Resorts
14 FRA 14 Arnaud Boissieres La Mie Câline – Artisans Artipôle
15 SUI 7 Alan Roura La Fabrique
16 FRA 8 Jérémie Beyou Charal
17 GBR 777 Pip Hare Medallia
18 FRA 92 Stéphane Le Diraison Time For Oceans
19 ESP 33 Didac Costa One Planet One Ocean
20 JPN 11 Kojiro Shiraishi DMG MORI Global One
21 FRA 71 Manuel Cousin Groupe Sétin
22 FRA 50 Miranda Merron Campagne de France
23 FRA 83 Clément Giraud Compagnie du lit – Jiliti
24 FRA 72 Alexia Barrier TSE – 4myplanet
25 FIN 222 Ari Huusela Stark
26 FRA 69 Sébastien Destremau Merci
RET FRA 27 Isabelle Joschke MACSF
RET FRA 56 Fabrice Amedeo Newrest – Art et Fenetres
RET FRA 109 Samantha Davies Initiatives – Coeur
RET FRA 4 Sébastien Simon ARKEA PAPREC
RET GBR 99 Alex Thomson HUGO BOSS
RET FRA 85 Kevin Escoffier PRB
RET FRA 6 Nicolas Troussel CORUM L’Épargne