Bernard Stamm is sheltering in the upturned hull of his Open 60 in mid-Atlantic after the keel falls off, and Riou's Open 60 PRB is dismasted

Swiss skipper Bernard Stamm set off his EPIRB early this morning after the keel parted from the hull of his Open 60 Cheminees Poujoulat – Armor Lux. The boat immediately capsized and is lying on her side. Stamm’s position is north-east of Flemish Cap, about 360 miles from St John’s Newfoundland.

Stamm is reportedly uninjured and is safe inside and in a survival suit. He reports that the sails are keeping the boat stable on her side. MRCC Halifax are co-ordinating the emergency and are thought to be directing both airborne and seaborne rescue missions. Fellow Open 60 skipper Sebastian Josse, on VMI, who is about 200 miles behind Stamm is racing towards him and estimates being on scene in about 15 hours.

This is not the first time Stamm has had keel troubles. In Around Alone, the solo round the world race that he won last year, Stamm had to divert to the Falkland Islands when his keel began to work loose in what sounds like a similar failure. The fin, which is made of 40mm monolithic carbon, was temporarily strengthened by through bolting steel plates to each side.

Earlier this morning, disaster also struck for Vincent Riou, whose Open 60 PRB was dismasted in NW winds of 25 knots and rough seas. Riou’s boat is said to be sound and neither he nor his shore crew have asked for any assistance. Riou has nothing left of either mast or boom, so he cannot make a jury rig, but his team are looking at ways of rescuing Riou themselves.