Rescue mission underway, and Golding says difficult choices may have persuaded skippers to drive too hard

This morning MRCC Halifax dispatched a search and rescue plane to help Bernard Stamm, who is on board his upturned yacht 600 miles west of St Johns, Newfoundland. This made visual contact with him at 1259GMT. A tanker, Emma, has been diverted to evacuate Stamm and is expected on scene by mid afternoon. Sebastian Josse, who is 150 miles behind Stamm, has been released to continue racing.

In an interview with race HQ at 0440GMT this morning Stamm said he was frustrated and scared. When the boat got to a certain speed, the keel started to vibrate, he explained, forcing him to slow down. He expressed frustration at having to check his speed while rivals were pushing on quickly in north-easterlies and said “I’m having to sail like a beginner.” But he added that the keel vibrations frightened him. Less than three hours later, the keel parted from the hull and Stamm capsized.

Reflecting on the bad news during the night of Stamm’s situation and PRB’s dismasting, Mike Golding said in the daily phone-in this morning that he was seeing winds of 30-35 knots and “very rough seas”. Sailing fast downwind under white sails, he admitted that these are “quite trying conditions for the boat and the sailor.”

He speculated that Bernard Stamm and Vincent Riou (PRB) may have overcooked their racing efforts. “We’ve all been making quite difficult choices with regard to routeing,” he said. “Both PRB and Armor Lux, looking at their tracks, have made a decision to not go by the shortest route and to sail round the high evolving to the south of Newfoundland.

“And I think the consequences of that is that they probably were pushing extra hard to try and make up the ground and to use the wind angle. My guess is that they were using extremes to really drive the boats.”