Positioned 140 km to the East of the port of Dunedin in New Zealand, Groupama 3 had only been sailing in the Pacific Ocean for a short time. With a day's lead, after 24 days at sea, over Bruno Peyron's time, current holder of the Jules Verne Trophy, Franck Cammas and his nine crew were really handling Groupama 3 with care, as watch leader Franck Proffit detailed to us just a few hours ago:
"We are in really built up seas, with waves of 6 to 7 metres. We can't drop down too far South as there are winds reaching 50 knots. We are therefore adopting a fairly N'ly course as far as New Zealand so as we can then gybe and slip along nicely again. The Pacific should bode better for us.
Groupama 3 is very sound and she behaves exceptionally well in this type of sea; at the helm with 7 metre waves, the floats plunge and never bury into the waves".
Immediately they were informed, the Gris-Nez rescue services in France alerted their New Zealand counterparts in order to perform the rescue of the crew of Groupama 3.
One plane and then two helicopters were sent to the zone three hours after the capsize. The 10 sailors were all airlifted by helicopter at 0330 (UT) and then repatriated to Dunedin, on New Zealand's South Island.
A telephone conference with Franck Cammas will be organised early this morning.