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6 January 2009, 09:36 am
LE CAM In Difficulty Near Cape Horn - UPDATED
Jean LE CAM onboard VM Matériaux
Jean LE CAM sent a distress signal to his shore team early this morning


At 00:26 UTC this morning, Vendée Globe competitor Jean LE CAM informed his shore team that he was in distress 200 miles west of Cape Horn.
Jean LE CAM (FRA) onboard VM Matériaux was able to telephone his shore team in France to inform that he was experiencing serious difficulties on board his monohull. It was possible that he was capsizing, as the phone went dead at that point. The boat was located at 56° 17' S and 73° 46' W, or around 200 miles West of Cape Horn. At the time, the weather conditions were generating 25-knot westerly to south-westerly winds with stronger gusts.

Immediately the MRCC (International Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) was alerted and Vincent RIOU (FRA) on PRB and Armel LE CLÉAC'H (FRA) on Brit Air have changed course to go to the zone where LE CAM was sailing: They should reach this zone at around 13:00 UTC. The Sarsat-Cospas distress beacon on the monohull was triggered at 01:40 UTC. The rescue services are preparing to intervene and the plan of action will be updated as information is received by the Race Directors.

Updated 10:35 - VM Matériaux Spotted

The Chilean search and rescue plane deployed to assist VM Matériaux, following Jean LE CAM's distress call at 01:40 UTC, this morning flew over the area at 0945 and has confirmed sight of the IMOCA 60.

The yacht is reported to be upside down, however it is not clear whether the keel is still attached.

The cargo vessel Sanangol Kassagie, a 180-tonne petrol tanker, diverted to the scene is currently less than one mile from VM Matériaux's location and has also got the yacht in sight.

No contact has yet been made with VM Matériaux, however the yacht's second EPIRB was activated at 08:50 UTC this morning.

Conditions in the area are believed to be winds of 25-30 knots, gusting 40, with a rough sea state of 4-5m. The captain of the Sanangol Kassagie is understood to be working out best to assist LE CAM.

RIOU, one of two skippers diverted to assist VM Matériaux, reported that he was talking to LE CAM when there was a strange noise on board VM Matériaux. LE CAM was inside the yacht and contacted his shore team indicating that he thought the boat was about to capsize.

Click here for all the news on the Vendée Globe.

Véronique Teurlay (As Amended By ISAF)
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