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Vendée Globe favourite Guillemot pulls out of race

France’s Marc Guillemot, a favourite to win the 2012/2013 Vendée Globe, was forced to abandon the round-the-world yacht race on Sunday after his vessel ‘Safran’ broke her keel in an accident, less than 24 hours after the race started.

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French skipper Marc Guillemot, one of the favourites for the 2012/2013 Vendée Globe, has been forced to abandon the race less than 24 hours after the start here on Sunday.

Guillemot limped back to Les Sables d'Olonne early Sunday morning after his boat Safran broke her keel as a result of an accident.

The 53-year-old yachtsman, third in the last edition of the solo non-stop round the world race in 2009, reported hearing "two loud noises" 60 miles off the Vendée coast.

On return to port Guillemot's team "carried out an examination of the vessel and came across the broken keel under the waterline", a team statement reported.

"As we don't have a spare keel Safran is unable to rejoin the race," it added.

"The Safran group has been alongside Marc Guillemot for the past seven years and supports him in this difficult moment."

Guillemot could be forgiven for having a sense of deja vu as his boat suffered a similar fate shortly after the start of the 2008/2009 Vendée, only then he was able to carry out emergency repairs before rejoining the contest.

"I don't want this to become a tradition," he said dryly on his return this time.

"Up to the problem I was really enjoying myself. It was short but intense..."

Guillemot's exit leaves a field of 19 at sea, with another Frenchman, Francois Gabart at the helm of Macif, leading from previous winner Vincent Riou with 23,760 miles and three months sailing ahead.

(AFP)

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