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Storms batter Route du Rhum fleet

Rexona Men
Rexona Men was the third yacht to capsize in the rough weather

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ST MALO, France -- A third 60-foot trimaran capsized on Wednesday morning as storm winds and rough seas battered the single-handed sailors in the trans-Atlantic Route du Rhum and also caused two more retirements.

Sailor Yvan Bourgnon was uninjured when a gust, estimated at more than 80 knots, flipped his boat Rexona Men over in the North Atlantic, 300 miles off the Spanish coast.

Bourgnon was inside the boat talking to his onshore weather router when the capsize happened. He immediately set off the distress beacon and contacted his shore crew by the satellite telephone.

Bourgnon has decided to stay onboard in the upturned trimaran. He has 10 days of food supply, and had not asked for rescue. His shore crew plan to send out a boat to tow him back to land.

The 18.28m (60ft) trimaran Rexona Man is the oldest ORMA 60 trimaran in the race and is the only double winner, finishing first in 1994 and 1998 when sailed by Bourgnon's older brother Laurent as Primagaz.

Despite being outclassed by the newer boats, Rexona Man had been battling for the lead at the front of the trimaran class with Sodebo, Fujifilm and Foncia and had briefly led the race on Tuesday.

Rexona is the third trimaran to capsize in the race since the start from St Malo on Sunday. Groupama capsized on the first night at sea and was them rammed by Bonduelle in the dark, while Eure et Loire capsized on Tuesday.

Groupama
Groupama was the first casualty after one day of racing

The stormy conditions have also been taking their toll on the monohull fleet with news that Swiss skipper Dominique Wavre in Tenemos had abandoned the race in the early hours of Wednesday morning after his jib exploded.

The disappointed Swiss skipper said that he can no longer win the race without this vital sail and so there was no point in continuing.

"I entered this course with ambitions and with the will to battle," he said. This was Wavre's first retirement in his entire sailing career.

Fifty-eight yachts started from Saint Malo at the weekend, but by the fourth day there have been 12 retirements and seven boats had headed to port to make repairs. (read full list)

Of the remaining sailors, Briton Mike Golding sailing Ecover has taken the lead for the first time in the Open 60 monohull class with Rolain Jourdain in Sill now back in second place 10 miles behind and Briton Ellen MacArthur third in Kingfisher.

Thomas Colville in Sodebo is back in first place in the ORMA 60 trimaran class with a lead of just 2 miles over Loick Peyron on Fujifilm and 27 miles ahead of Alain Gautier in third.

The first finishers of the single-handed 3,540 mile race are expected in Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe about November 22.

ORMA 60 trimarans

•1 Sodebo/Thomas Colville 2936 miles to the finish

•2 Fujifilm/Loick Peyron +2.3 miles

•3 Foncia/Alain Gautier +27.6

•4 Banque Populaire/Lalou Roucayrol +105.5

•5 Geant/Michel Desjoyeaux +108.7

Open 60 monohulls

•1 Ecover/Mike Golding 2908 miles to the finish

•2 Sill/Roland Jourdain +10.2

•3 Kingfisher/Ellen MacArthur +22.1

•4 Arcelor Dunkerque/Joe Seeten +128

•5 60eme Sud/Didier Munduteguy +135.9



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