I am shocked and gutted at the news that JP Dick has lost his keel. JP has sailed an awesome race and does not deserve this to happen to him. He has worked so hard and maintained his third position despite having to climb the mast countless times. I am thankful that it has happened here and not in the south although JP will have to go through some significant weather to get to the Azores, potentially up to 40 knots on the 26th.
I never thought we would see a keel failure on this race. IMOCA has of course a history with keel failures but I really thought all those problems were behind us. It will be interesting to review the failures of Virbac and Safran, both penned from the same designer to see exactly why these failures have happened.
When I joined the class in 2003 I was a little surprised that I had to change the keel on my first boat because it had exceeded its mileage of 80,000 miles. Since then people have been building keels that last only one round the world race to save a few kilos of weight. I came from the world that a keel lasted for the life of the boat and that is where we need to get to. In 2009 IMOCA brought in some regulations to make keels safer but it obviously has not been enough.
Enough is enough, the keels need to be made of solid steel and last the life of the boat, before someone gets hurt.