Bernard Stamm and crewmember Damien Guillou rescued from Cheminees Poujoulat in Western Approaches

Bernard Stamm and crewmember Damien Guillou were rescued at 0600 this morning (Dec 24) after running into difficulties and triggering their EPIRB 170 miles off the Scilly Isles at 1850 yesterday (23 Dec).

The rescue operation involved two helicopters and a fixed wing aircraft and the deployment of what is understood to be six life rafts was unsuccessful in the Force 9 conditions with 10 metre waves that prevailed in the Western Approaches.

According to the Marine Coastguard Agency the French Coastguard at Griz Nez, Falmouth Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre organised for the Royal Navy Rescue Helicopter based at Culdrose to fly to the very limit of their range to the yacht with support from a French aircraft. The aircraft provided a communications link and found the exact location of the yacht before the helicopter arrived on scene.

The Royal Navy helicopter arrived on scene at just after midnight and attempted to winch the crew on board. Unfortunately because of the damage to the mono-hull racing yacht and weather conditions they had to abandon the attempt at just before 1am.

“This has been a very lengthy rescue and demanding rescue,” said Falmouth Coastguard Watch Manager Ian Guy.

“The yacht was a long way from land and at the mercy of massive waves. The helicopter crew did all that they could but the damage to the yacht made it impossible for them to winch the crew to safety.”

The crew were eventually rescued by a Norwegian cargo vessel the Star Isfjord at 0614 in an exercise that took over two hours. The ship and its rescued crew are understood to be en route to Rotterdam.

Stamm and Guillou were on their way to Brest and are understood to have raised the alarm after reporting that the vessel was taking on water and they had problems with the mast.

As the pair were taken aboard the ship unconfirmed reports suggest that the IMOCA 60 was still afloat but mostly under water.