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Vendée Globe: Almost half of all starters accused of breaking rules by the race committee


A slew of penalty flags is waving around the Vendée Globe fleet of singlehanders racing non-stop round the world.

Eight of the 20 starters are being accused by the race committee of breaking rules covering a ban on straying into traffic separation lanes at sea, which they are required to observe. They are Mike Golding, Kito de Pavant, Javier Sanso, Dominique Wavre, Jean le Cam, Zbigniew Gutkowski, Tanguy de Lamotte, and Jérémie Bayou.

Curiously, the same list, with one change, features in a parallel protest from Britain’s Alex Thomson , who drops Golding from his complaints but adds Jean-Pierre Dick. Which protest was first lodged could be significant – did Thomson embarrass the committee into action? – but both are bring considered in parallel.

For a long time. The jury has been aware since Monday but is still asking for more time before delivering a decision, though it is thought that every one of the 20 boats is tracked every mile of the way. Any punishments would involve a time penalty.

Only 16 of those boats are still racing as Louis Burton gave up any hope of returning to Les Sables d’Olonne to repair the rig to his mast. Armel le Cleac’h has taken over the lead from François Gabard with Bernard Stamm third. Thomson lies sixth and Golding eighth.

French-based British solo sailor Sam Davies is motoring to Madeira after being dismasted, not at all happy. But her retirement will at least give her the opportunity for further talks with the Swedish organisers of the all-woman entry in the next Volvo fully-crewed race around fhe world starting in 2014.

The SCA team will be setting up early in the New Year a training camp at Puerto Calero on Lanzarote, which is where the Ericsson team prepared ahead of winning the 2008-09 race.

Shore crewman Fred Gastinet suffered a broken leg when a gust of wind caught the 40-metre wing sail being hoisted into the Prada-backed Luna Rossa 72-foot catamaran at its Auckland training base. British Finn sailor Giles Scott has joined the crew.