Vendee Globe: Epic rescue after solo sailor's boat breaks

The French competitor got into difficulties amid five metre high waves off the Cape of Good Hope but a fellow race sailor managed to save him

1 December 2020
By Hannah Thompson

French sailor and Vendee Globe competitor Kevin Escoffier has been found “safe and sound” off the Cape of Good Hope after his boat split into two, and he was forced to escape to a rescue raft.

Mr Escoffier was rescued by fellow round-the-world competitor Jean Le Cam.

Mr Escoffier’s team confirmed via Twitter that he was on board Mr Le Cam's yacht, after first seeing the raft at 17:15 French time on Monday, November 30.

The sailor was described as sain et sauf ("safe and sound") and both competitors are doing well, they reported.

Two more French competitors, Yannick Bestaven and Sebastien Simon, had also joined the search for Mr Escoffier, as had the German sailor Boris Herrmann.

Mr Escoffier first made it known he was getting into difficulties after reporting that his yacht was taking on “a significant amount of water”, around 840 nautical miles south of Cape Town, South Africa.

Mr Escoffier had been using a new kind of yacht, dubbed a “foiler” or “flying boat”, which uses a foil to lift out of the water in strong wind. Waves reportedly reached five metres high as night fell, making the rescue mission even more difficult.

He told news source FranceInfo: “It was surreal. I didn’t believe it. I was surfing on a wave, and at the bottom of the wave, my boat folded in half. The water was rising at a crazy speed into the boat, I just had enough time to find my survival gear, to leave, to get a life raft. It happened extremely fast.

“In these sorts of situations, you have to take action. I didn’t ask questions on my life raft; if they were going to find me...When I saw Jean [Le Cam] pass near me at the end of the afternoon, I was so reassured. [After the rescue] we hugged each other and Jean said: ‘Bloody hell, you’re on board!’”

Mr Le Cam explained the difficulty he had in finding the raft during the rescue mission.

He said: “They called me to say they had a position. I went to that position, and there was no-one there. But later, I was standing on the bridge, and I saw a flash [of the life raft]. I said to myself, no, it can’t be...eventually we succeeded.”

All of the sailors will be permitted to return to the race after the recovery operation is completed. The hours taken up by the rescue mission will be deducted from their overall total time.

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Briton Sam Davies is sailing in her third Vendée Globe

Sailor Gabart invests in ‘borrow my boat’ start-up

Each social media click for Globe sailor is €1 for charity

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