Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Le Cam safe and sound on board PRB!


Jean Le Cam has been rescued safe and sound aboard PRB, but Vincent Riou’s yacht suffers damage in the process.

This evening a full-scale rescue operation was in place to retrieve Jean Le Cam 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 Vincent Riou who successfully recovered fellow skipper and friend Le Cam.

At 1810 (GMT) the Race Directors spoke to Vincent Riou, who reported that Jean Le Cam had climbed out of VM Matériaux wearing his survival suit. Vincent 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 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.