Tuesday, December 8, 2020


 8 December 2020: We seem to have been concentrating recently on shipwrecks and this week's post will continue that trend, but with a different - a very different - slant. The Vendee Globe race is a single handed non stop round the world race that encompasses the three "capes" - Cape Horn, Cape of Good Hope, and Cape Leeuwin. Basically the race instruction says "leave Antarctica to Starboard." The 2nd to last leg, west to east in the Southern Ocean (the roaring forties) is down wind and leaves Cape Horn to port. Then up the Atlantic to finish off France.  Did I mention two key phrases: "non-stop" and "single handed." The race is 24,000 miles (44,000 KM). There is frequently a problem in those waters with one or more boats and this year is no exception.The race was founded by Philippe Jeantot in 1989, and since 1992 has taken place every four years. It is named after the Département of Vendée, in France, where the race starts and ends. The following from the British Guardian:


 From 2008/9 Vendee Globe

In the 2008-2009 Vendée Globe solo round-the-world race, Jean LeCam’s Imoca 60 capsized 200 miles west of Cape Horn, trapping him inside for 16 hours. He was rescued by Vincent Riou, the skipper of the Imoca 60 PRB.

On November 30, almost twelve years later, the rescued became the rescuer when Le Cam plucked the 2020 skipper of PRB, Kevin Escoffier, out of his life raft, in a dramatic rescue, 840 miles south west of Cape Town, South Africa.

 Le Cam's PRB at speed

 Escoffier’s foiling Imoca 60 PRB had snapped in half on Sunday when it slammed into a wave at 27 knots while competing in this year’s Vendée Globe solo round-the-world race. Escoffier said the bow bent up at a 90-degree angle and that he only had seconds to send a text before his electronics were fried by the incoming water.

 Artist conception of the disaster


“I didn’t have time to do anything,” Kevin Escoffier said. “I just had time to send a message to my team. ‘I’m sinking, I’m not joking. MAYDAY.’”

Escoffier abandoned ship and took to his life raft. Race management used an EPIRB signal and drift prediction software to put Le Cam in a position to locate Escoffier.

it took Le Cam multiple attempts to get Escoffier on board, at one point losing sight of him for hours, and finally retrieving him in the dark in 25 knot winds while slowing his boat to 1.5 knots with a triple-reefed main. Spotting the life raft a second time, Le Cam’s boat reversed to within 6 feet of Escoffier. Le Cam tossed a life ring to his fellow Frenchman and hauled him on board.

Escoffier after rescue
 Afterwards, in a video transmitted from Le Cam’s boat, Escoffier can be seen alternately joking with his rescuer and wrought with emotion, knowing he may have ruined Le Cam’s chances of winning the race and also coming very close to losing his own life.

Vendée Globe race management will have to get Escoffier off his rescuer’s boat so Le Cam can continue the solo race alone. Le Cam will be credited for the time he lost while retrieving Escoffier. Meanwhile, Escoffier will merely be a passenger. Race rules do not allow him to assist Le Cam in sailing the boat.



Escoffier was subsequently (a couple of days later) transferred to a French warship in the waters near Reunion Is. and Le Cam continued the race alone, having received time credit for his rescue of Escoffier. Truly a paragon of sportsmanship and one the things sailing is all about! We'll let you know who wins when they return to Les Sables France next year!

Until next time,

                                      Fair Winds, (and not the Southern Ocean kind!)

                                       Old Satlt







 The Vendée Globe is a single-handed non-stop round the world yacht race. Wikipedia

Start: Les Sables-d'Olonne
Finish: Les Sables-d'Olonne
Length: 24,000 nmi (44,000 km)

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