Nicolas Florin, bowman on trimaran Biscuits de la Trinitaine, was swept off the boat at high speed. He was wearing a harness but it broke.

As Kingfisher’s Ellen and Yves Parlier crossed the line on Aquitaine Innnovations to take victory in the monohull section of the Round Europe Race, there was sadly not much to cheer about. Towards the end of yesterday afternoon, whilst racing along at breakneck speeds, Nicolas Florin, the bowman from one of the 60 foot trimarans “Biscuits de la Trinitaine”, was swept off the boat. His harness broke under the force of the water as the boat dived in to a wave in testing conditions. Several boats were immediately detailed to search as well as two helicopters, but at daylight there was still no sign of him. The search continues but hopes are fading of finding him alive.

Nicolas is a very experienced sailor, and previously part of the Corum Sailing Team, having raced Admirals Cup, Mumm 36 Worlds and even the Paris Dakar rally in a buggy. These Open 60 trimarans in particular are the equivalent of Formula 1 racing cars. They are raced to the limit, and crewed by some of the most experienced sailors in the world.

It’s a sad moment in what has been an incredibly fast leg – and testing for the crews. On the sailing, MacArthur commented ‘the conditions since we left Italy have been really full on. We’ve been wet through from the start, and in the past 24 hours have had some thrilling sailing – averaging over 17 knots for the period. Whirlpool was ahead of us yesterday with just 200 miles to go, but we managed to push harder in these final hours and got clear ahead of her beating her by several hours in the end. These Open 60s really are amazing machines. We’re sailing at breathtaking speeds, and pushing to the limits unlike when they are raced solo. A fantastic learning experience for me – and a great atmosphere onboard the boat. C’est superbe!’

The crews now get some rest until the start of leg 2 to Lorient, France, which starts on Sunday.

Results Monos 1. Aquitaine Innovations (Parlier, MacArthur) 2. Whirlpool-Europe 2 (Chabaud)

Multis 1. Fujicolour (Peyron) 2. Groupama (Cammas)