Denis Van Weynbergh out of Vendée Arctique

Belgian solo skipper Denis Van Weynbergh, with less than 20 miles to the finish line, made the shattering decision at 08h22 PM this Saturday evening to abandon the Vendée Arctique – Les Sables d’Olonne

His choice was made after succumbing to a succession of damages that had built up on board his IMOCA, Laboratoires de Biarritz, over the last 48 debilitating hours.

The skipper of Laboratoires de Biarritz initially faced electronic problems when he was in the teeth of the depression that was sweeping the fleet. Friday morning Van Weynbergh slipped and fell, causing a bad muscle tear, but he still he held on.

As the depression got worse and with gusts of more than 50 knots, his IMOCA was knocked over several times. Then today, the problems increased when his rudder separated away from the transom. A massive gust of wind then ripped the radar off when it was caught by his headsail. It was then the 55-year-old Belgian skipper decided to stop and give up.

“He is obviously very disappointed not to have gone to the finish and having got so close, but he had given absolutely everything and had hung in to everything,” explains a member of Van Weynbergh’s team. “He thinks so much about everyone involved in his project and would have liked to have made the line for them.”

Les Sables d’Olonne based Van Weynbergh had a small army of local volunteers who had dedicated themselves to helping him and worked on his boat. He particularly distinguished himself during the race by taking a very eastern route, skirting the coasts of Ireland and Scotland for a long time before heading for Iceland.

After announcing his retirement to race management, the Belgian skipper unsealed his engine to take shelter. He intends to make regular updates with his team and will decide on a strategy to get home safely once rested and recovered from his Icelandic waters ordeal.

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