Bernard Stamm’s broken and partially sunken IMOCA 60 Cheminées Poujoulat is recovered

The sight of Bernard Stamm’s broken and all but sunken IMOCA 60 Cheminées Poujoulat being towed back in two halves is a sad one, but the dramatic failure came so close to being a tragedy. Fortunately both crew were recovered but this video is a stark reminder of the potential risks.

On Christmas Eve Bernard Stamm and his crew Damien Guillou were rescued from their Open 60 after the boat broke in two. Several attempts had been made during the previous night to air lift them off the broken boat in horrendous conditions, but it was not until the early hours of the morning that the pair were rescued by a cargo vessel.

The remarkable video footage, which was posted online by, shows clearly how the bow is completely detached from the main hull as it dragged along behind the bulk of the hull.

In his interview shortly after the drama, Stamm talked of shutting the watertight bulkheads, presumably this is why both the front and back of the broken boat are still floating. If nothing else, the fact that the entire boat didn’t sink demonstrates how effective watertight bulkheads are, although for how long crew could survive on these partially sunken platforms in the middle of a gale is questionable. It does however act as a reminder to keep the doors shut when under way.

But the bigger questions must surely be, why did this grand prix machine break in two and will we ever find out?

Accidents happen – fact – particularly in areas where gaining a competitive edge means pushing the limits. The worry however, is when the sport isn’t able to learn from such incidents to reduce the chances of it, (or even prevent it), happening again. I do hope that in time we find out what went wrong as the thought of this happening in a more remote location is a frightening one.