Jean LE CAM has been rescued safe and sound aboard PRB, although Vincent RIOU's yacht suffered damage in the process.
On Tuesday evening a full-scale rescue operation was in place to retrieve Vendée Globe competitor Jean LE CAM (FRA) from the upturned hull of VM Matériaux - a Chilean Navy tug boat equipped with divers was on its way, a helicopter had been deployed and the tanker Sonangol Kassanje was standing by - but in the end it was another competitor Vincent RIOU (FRA) who successfully recovered his fellow skipper and friend LE CAM.
At 18:10 UTC the Race Directors spoke to RIOU, who reported that LE CAM had climbed out of VM Matériaux wearing his survival suit. RIOU circled repeatedly to retrieve the skipper from the water, and on the fourth attempt he successfully rescued LE CAM on board PRB.
However, on his final approach alongside the inverted VM Matériaux, the end of PRB's port outrigger was damaged against the upturned keel fin. LE CAM was able to scramble aboard soon after and appears to be unhurt, as RIOU reported that both skippers worked on deck to stabilize PRB's mast. They are now sailing slowly, on starboard tack, on a heading of 110 with three reefs in the main and no headsail.
Armel LE CLÉAC'H (FRA) on Brit Air, who was also standing by to assist in the rescue, is now following PRB as they investigate repairs the rig.
"It's an incredible story that has a happy end,"
said Alain GAUTIER, the Vendée Globe safety consultant.
The rescue operation by the Chilean Navy has been called off - the helicopter has turned around, as has the Chilean tug, which was set to reach VM Matériaux on Wednesday morning. The oil tanker which has been standing alongside since this morning can also now move off.
LE CAM had sent a distress signal from VM Matériaux to his shore team at 01:40 UTC on Tuesday morning, to inform that he was experiencing serious difficulties onboard his monohull and shortly after the boat capsized. VM Matériaux 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 RIOU and Armel LE CLÉAC'H (FRA) on Brit Air changed course to go to the zone where LE CAM was sailing.
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