I confess that I thought that Thomas Ruyant was making a magnificent gesture trying to safe his boat but that in the end he would not succeed. I saw the condition of the boat, I saw on the weather forecast what he had ahead and I didn't believe it was possible. The weather he got was even worse than what I thought he would get, but strange things can happen when one has the strength to fight to the limit against all the odds, with all his forces.
On the words of Thomas Ruyant:
“ The damage at the front of the boat is spreading. The hull is opening up and the frame coming away more, everywhere. I’m sailing to the south of New Zealand. I’m not sure if it will all stay in one piece until then...
The inside hasn’t been affected and with my watertight doors, I’m safe. The shock was exceptionally violent. It gives me the shivers just thinking about it. I was at 17-18 knots and came to a sudden standstill hitting what was probably a container seeing the damage it has done to the hull. The whole of the forward section exploded and folded up. Luckily the boat was not dismasted.
It was really very violent. I was sleeping on my beanbag and fortunately I had my head down in that, as I ended up hitting the mast bulkhead. I found things that were stowed in the stern right up against the forward bulkhead. They got thrown 10m forward.”...
A few hours ago, I thought that the story of my proud sailboat with the flying hummingbird was over. I could not make way in 45 knots of wind. I was inside with the finger on the button of the beacon for evacuation. I thought I was definitely losing Le Souffle du Nord.
The boat was broached severely every two minutes. I could not control it with a rudder system destroyed. The rig was completely lose and I had no runners. Everything was held by a thread! ...
After this bad time and after having passed this famous cap (sailing under its protection) I realized that I was going to make it. I had a moment of truly happiness with an incredibly beautiful sunset along the New Zealand's coasts...
Since the passage of the southern tip of New Zealand, everything is secure, I think. We sail in sheltered waters. The boat is currently inclined to the bow but we are taking care of that.
I have two New Zealanders on board my boat. We are installing a motor pump to try to empty the front compartment. I have 8 knots of wind and a flat sea. I think I can say that I am going to save Le Souffle du Nord and that we will succeed in bringing it home."
Those two that went aboard were New Zealander sailors, one of them was Stuart McLachlan the captain of Camper in the Volvo Ocean Race. They were put aboard by s NZ Guard Coast boat after Ruyant have managed to bring the "Souflle du Nord" under the protection of the South New Zealand coast, just in time to help save the boat.
At that time he was unable to bail out the water that was entering the boat relying on a watertight compartment to maintain it afloat. We was advancing at only 5k with the bow down on the water and the stern way above the sea with waves coming over the deck. Great video on the link below:http://vid804.photobucket.com/albums/yy322/Paulo_Carvalho/963482464001_5256444951001_5256426487001_zps1nx4cc4b.mp4
A great story that will remain as one of the many great stories of this race, the story of a poor talented young sailor trying to save his boat. If he was already one of the great and famous ones on this race, probably he would have called the helicopter and would have abandoned the boat, but contrary to the others he knew that if he lost the boat we would never get a sponsor big enough to buy him a new boat, or even an used one as good as this one. He was not fighting just for the boat but fighting to save his professional racing career at the highest level.
I believe that his great performance on the race with an older boat and this big exploit had just made that and I am quite sure that the French will not forget Thomas Ruyant, that is one of the youngest sailors on the top solo class, a newcomer, after having won everything that was to be won on the smaller classes, namely the mini transat and the Route du Rhum in class40. Just look at the movie below:
If they offer him the means to have a new and competitive boat for the next Vendee I am quite sure he will be a contender for the victory. He was all it takes to be a vendee Winner.