Jean LE CAM and Vincent RIOU spoke this morning about the rescue operation that retrieved LE CAM from his capsized boat VM Matériaux close to Cape Horn, read on for the story in their own words...
Jean LE CAM (FRA) sent a distress signal from VM Matériaux to his shore team at 01:40 UTC on Tuesday morning, shortly before capsizing just 200 miles west of Cape Horn. A full-scale rescue operation was put into place to retrieve the skipper and after an agonizing wait it was his fellow competitor Vincent RIOU (FRA), who got their first. On hearing RIOU's voice, LE CAM climbed out of the upturned VM Matériaux wearing his survival suit. RIOU circled repeated to rescue his friend and competitor and successfully retrieved him from the water on his fourth attempt, although damaging his own boat, PRB, in the process.
This morning at 09:30 UTC, the two skippers spoke to race organizer Philippe DE VILLIERS to tell the story in their own words.
Philippe DE VILLIERS:
I would like to salute on behalf of all the team of the VG the extroardinary gesture of friendship done yesterday and which was the epilogue of a lond day of anguish.
Hello to all, we are good, it's early morning and we just woke up, we needed to rest, and we're getting close to Cape Horn
Jean LE CAM:
I'm ok, like someone who just woke up ten minutes ago, and who needed to sleep, and that's how I am feeling right now.
We are proud of the two of you, what you've done is extraordinary, we lived this anguishing day together, we thought of you every minute, Vincent we'd like to congratulate you, congratulations to the both of you
Those are moments that afterwards, it's afterwards, and you have a hard time to explain how it was throughout, thank god it went ok
First of all, I always had in my head do not leave the boat, then I didn't know how long I could live inside. I heard Vincent's voice in the morning, and thought am I dreaming or not? Then I heard it again so I was sure he was there, and that's important, because if you get out and there's no one, you're in a really bad shape because possibly you can't get back in, I mean there's only one shot at this. So I went in the back, it was immersed in water, I went back in my igloo in the front of the boat, and at one point, I thought let's go back, it's not because there's water that I can't give it a try, I had capsized once and had held on the outside of the boat for five hours, you need to hold on to something, it's like when you go buy bread you can't forget your money. So I opened the hatch and things kept coming out of the boat, Vincent saw things come out of the hatch, and then I put my feet first, I got out in one movement with the wave, I held on, lifted my head up, and saw Vincent, which was a great moment.
I was in the water, I get on the boat, one arm around the safran, Vincent came around a few times, I grabbed onto his bout and he heaved me up, then the outrigger hit the keel, and the mast of PRB was inclined 30 degrees, we consolidated the mast, and that was it.
Close ups in the morning when I just woke up and haven't put on my make up! I haven't slept like this in two months. In real life, I'm much better than this.
I heard screams, I could hear his fear in his screams, I was afraid of the cold and hypothermia for him, the boat was slowly sinking, I didn't know how he was inside, I was imagining that he could try and get out at some point, so we decided to take rounds for the boat because I was afraid that he'd try to get out and there would be no one waiting there for him. It's not easy for someone to get out like that, so we stayed close to the boat the whole time we waited, when I took my turn and I saw things coming out, I thought he's doing something, I saw containers, then the hatch came out, and I knew immediately the boat was open and so I stayed close so as soon as Jean would come out I'd be there.
And then I came close a first time, I came close a second time and I missed him, and at the fourth try I managed to send him the bout, the more I got closer the more I took risks, it could only take one bigger wave for Jean to be sent off, you can't resist the pressure of the water, the fourth time I got really close, the hulls didn't touch but the keel hit the outrigger, but at the time I really didn't care, first I get jean then I'll take care of my outrigger, my priority was set on getting jean no matter what.
We are heading towards Cape Horn, then close to the canal beagle and we'll try to moor tonight, I'm waiting from the jury to see how the race can go on for me, or how it can end, I'm in discussions with the jury to see what the possibilities are.
RIOU: Apparently, Jean will get off at Ushuaia, we'll rendezvous tonight with Isabelle AUTISSIER who's on site with her boat, so that's our contact there , and that's through her that he'll get off
LE CAM: I was on the phone with Vincent, we were talking, and I felt something, a shock on the boat, something weird, and I felt something was really wrong, and the boat lied down, and then it capsized. I think it was a container or something in the water, my first reflex was to look behind and there was nothing, it must have been a container. Here we see lots of boats, there's a lot of maritime traffic, and usually that means that some things are left behind.
LE CAM: The boat lied down, it capsized quite quickly, since there was no keel left, the first thing I did was to jump on my clothes and my TPS, I immediately grabbed and put on my survival suit, and organized the rest to resist the cold, I grabbed my blanket which was wet and dried it off.
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