Groupama-2 pitchpoles off Canaries and co-skipper is helicoptered off with broken ribs

At around 1750 GMT last night, the 60ft multihull Groupama-2, skippered by French sailors Franck Cammas and Franck Proffit, capsized in a sudden squall 40 miles to the north-east of Palma, heading towards the Canary Islands. The prevailing conditions at the time were classic tradewind 25-30 knots from the north-east.

The trimaran was sailing downwind and it is presumed therefore that the hull pitchpoled but this is not confirmed. What we do know is that Franck Proffit was at the helm and was thrown violently forward, and has possibly broken his ribs. A helicopter was sent from the Canaries to the zone to pick up Franck Proffit from the boat to give him immediate medical assistance.

Franck Cammas is uninjured. He was inside at the time and stayed on board in order to assist with a salvage operation being arranged by his shore team.

Groupama-2 had been pushing hard all day after their five-hour pit-stop in Santo Porto at Madeira between 0400-0900 hrs local time yesterday morning to repair their steering and rudder systems, and had been clocking average boat speeds over 25 knots. In the polled positions an hour before the pitchpole, Groupama-2 had nosed ahead of Géant (Desjoyeaux/Destremau) by 2.6m and was positioned at 29 41 N, 17 59W on a south-westerly heading.

This is the 5th abandonment in the ORMA 60 multihull class, which leaves fove boats in the race, lead by Banque Populaire (Bidegorry/ Lemonchois). Eight boats in total have abandoned the race so far.