Another setback for Ellen as Alain Gautier's 60ft trimaran capsizes, but all are safe aboard and awaiting rescue by their shore team

Ellen MacArthur and her four fellow crewmembers on Alain Gautier’s 60ft trimaran Foncia capsized last night about 50 miles west of the River Tagus in Portugal. The crew are all safe and currently sheltering in the upturned central hull, with one person outside keeping watch.

Foncia had been taking part in the Challenge Mondial Assistance race for ORMA 60 trimarans, which began last weekend from Cherbourg and finishes in Rimini, Italy. She had been sailing in excellent conditions yesterday, with favourable winds of about 25 knots and moderate seas. The capsize happened at around 2100 GMT, when Foncia is reported to have accelerated suddenly. As she did so, the bows buried and the trimaran pitchpoled. The mast was immediately shattered.

Alain Gautier has not asked for assistance and his shore crew are trying to arrange a tow and rescue of the crew. A tug should arrive from Cascais by tomorrow morning. Meanwhile, Portuguese maritime police have taken precautions to prevent collision with the trimaran, which is positioned right in one of Europe’s busiest shipping lanes.