Loïck Peyron, who's held a dazzling lead for much of the Vendée Globe to date, dismasted in the Southern Ocean yesterday. Video here.
In a message of support to his competitor, compatriot, some time co-skipper (together, Peyron and Jean Pierre Dick won the 2005 Transat Jacques Vabre) and friend, the current leader JP writes:
"Can someone explain how in one second the work of so many people can be wiped out? Can anyone explain how you get this far in the Indian Ocean, having achieved so much. I can't accept this rule of sailing, where you can go from a proud racer to a floating wreck in a few seconds....
"Bravo Loïck who will yet challenge and demonstrate his immense talent. Yes, you are undoubtedly our Zizou to us and without the head shots! We love you. Full of courage to bring the baby home."
Poignant words from JP - no stranger to the shock of dismasting alone during a solo race in a remote part of the ocean, but finding a way to jury rig and bring the baby home - long after everyone else crossed the finish.
Michel Desjoyeaux echos: "Hats off, Loïck."
All the Vendée skippers feel genuine heartbreak for Peyron, who they've raced hard keep up with or keep off their back since November 9.
To date, this race has been the closest ever.
Mich Des - dubbed the "Bruce Springsteen of sailing" by race organizers - is up in third place today! This stunning performance after he was forced to return to the start for repairs in the first couple of days. He's come from behind and is just 30 some out nautical miles behind the leader. Unbelievable. And Bernard Stamm, another favorite who also had to return to the start early on, and today, is still far behind the lead pack, quietly continues his steady ascent up the ranking chart. Keep an eye on him. Watch his 24 hour speed from day to day. Keep an eye on the competitor in front of him. That is his competition right now. Just the one in front. Not the leader. Not yet. 500 miles to go, and then it's a new strategy.
Steve White. You rock.
And to all the skippers in the Vendée Globe. You are amazing, every one.