Race leader out of Artemis Transat

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The end-game of the Artemis Transat took a dramatic turn last night as race leader Vincent Riou sent a distress signal to say he needed to abandon ship after hitting an obstruction which fatally damaged his keel. Approaching the notorious fogs of the Grand Banks fishing grounds, Loick Peyron, who was pressing his lead by less than 15 miles, was asked by race control to divert and rescue his rival.

Stuart Alexander talks by video link to Dee Cafarri

Riou's PRB had been in a controlling position, but Peyron, already twice a winner of the original singlehanded transatlantic race, which goes back to 1960, picked up Riou and took him onboard. He had been reeling his rival in with better speed from stronger breeze in Gitana 80.

"The gaps are negligible," Riou had said, but now he needs to salvage his boat if he is to defend his title as winner of the Vendee Globe singlehanded non-stop round the world race.

Behind him, now in fifth place, is French-based British competitor Sam Davies. Her Roxy had been 350 miles behind the leader, but she said yesterday: "I'm still hanging in there. My goal is to try and keep up with Marc Guillemot [in fourth]. In my opinion Safran is the best boat in the fleet."

Now in eighth place is Dee Caffari in Aviva, less than 20 miles behind her nearest rival, Yannick Bestaven and in better, more combative spirits. In the 40-foot class, Italy's Giovanni Soldini maintains a 60-miles advantage on his nearest rivals as, chasing them, Miranda Merron was just under 100 miles astern in fifth place.