SAINT-MALO, France - One of the favourites in the Route du Rhum yacht race from France to Guadeloupe crashed into a cargo ship just hours after setting off, organisers said on Monday.
Thomas Coville, 46, was not hurt in the incident but his boat, the maxi trimaran Sodebo Ultim, lost the front of its starboard float and there appeared to be damage to its central hull.
The boat was forced to limp off towards Roscoff on the northwestern tip of France.
Coville won the Route du Rhum, held every four years, in a monohull in 1998 and finished third in trimarans in 2006 and 2010.
He was one of the favourites for the 10th edition of the race, which takes competitors from Saint-Malo in northern France to Pointe-a-Pitre in Guadeloupe.
Coville has broken numerous records in his career and completed seven circumnavigations of the world, including four attempts to break the single-handed world record.
As of early Monday, the Route du Rhum was being led by Loick Peyron, ahead of Sebastien Josse and Yann Elies.