Five months after serious injury and rescue from the Southern Ocean, Yann Elies bounces back to a big win


Talk about bouncing back.

Five months after seriously fracturing his femur and pelvis during the Vendée Globe and being rescued in agony by the Australian Navy, French sailor Yann Eliès is back on the water and winning.

Eliés was still in poor shape and on crutches in March when he welcomed home his other saviour, solo sailor Marc Guillemot. But this week he took part in – and won – his first major solo race since the accident: the Transmanche Race from Aber Wrac’h in Brittany to Plymouth and back.

The race is fiercely contested in Bénéteau Figaro 2s by some of the top French sailors, including fellow Vendée Globe skippers Jérémie Beyou and Armel Le Cléac’h.

Eliés who, like many of the French sailing greats, rose up through the ranks of Figaro racing, won in the last few miles of the race. He commented: “It’s like riding a bike – you never forget how.”

The victory makes him one of the favourites to win the 40th Solitaire du Figaro, which is being contested by some of the best-known names in solo sailing, including Michel Desjoyeaux. Britain’s Sam Davies is also planning to take part.

Yann Eliés’s express rehabilitation includes being part of the crew of the giant maxi trimaran Banque Populaire for the team’s attempt this summer on the North Atlantic record.

Photos by Thierry Martinez/Sea & Co