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Sailing: A giant squid nobbles the opposition

John Lichfield
Thursday 16 January 2003 01:00 GMT

Jules Verne would have been delighted. Not only is the trophy for the fastest round-the-world yacht trip named after him, but one of the competing boats was grappled this week by a giant squid.

The trimaran Geronimo, skippered by the former holder of the Jules Verne trophy, Olivier de Kersauson, was seized by a squid on Sunday night, just like the submarine Nautilus in Verne's novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea.

After the boat slowed mysteriously near Gibraltar, Didier Ragot, chief mate of Geronimo, peered at the underside of the trimaran through a trap door. He found a 10-metre squid clinging to the boat's hull.

"It was an impressive sight," M. Ragot said. "Its tentacles were as thick as my arm, with my oilskins on."

In Jules Verne's novel, an outsized squid wraps itself around the submarine's propeller blades and eats a sailor. The crew fights back and chops off seven of its eight tentacles.

On this occasion, however, no such measures were necessary. After the boat was slowed, the squid, which had hitched a ride for an hour, let go and returned to the depths.

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