The high-tech canting keels on the Vendée Globe Open 60 racing sailboats continue to be problematic, at best. On Sunday, Javier Sanso’s boat, Acciona, capsized, when his keel broke off. Sanso was rescued today. Also today, Jean-Pierre Dick crossed the finish line despite having lost his keel toward the end of January. Dick was fortunate enough to avoid capsizing and sailed close to 1,000 NM without a keel to finish the race. Mike Golding currently in sixth place is also having keel problems. His keel has not broken off but the has lost a forward fairing causing his keel box to leak.
Mike Golding understands keel problems. In the 2004-2005 2004-05 Vendée Globe, he lost his keel within 50 of the finish line but still managed to finish third. He recently commented to Vendee Globe TV:
“A fabricated keel has the life span of one Vendée Globe, period. If it makes the finish it is a design success, if it breaks it is a design failure. Unfortunately we have seen far too many design failures with fabricated steel keels. I championed several years ago changing the rule when I was president of the (IMOCA) technical committee, I tried to change the rule to have forged steel keels, which is pretty much the only way of guaranteeing, well not guaranteeing, but reducing keel fatigue failures like this. Unfortunately the votes missed by three or four votes out of a hundred people, as a result we have still got the fabricated forged and carbon variations. For me I chose to switch to a carbon keel, so I’m on a carbon keel, theoretically if the carbon keel is good, it is good for the life of the boat, theoretically.”