The second trimaran pitchpoles in this two handed transatlantic race, this time with tragic results

At 0745 this morning the EPIRB distress beacon was set off on board the 60ft trimaran Groupe Andre. It transpired that the boat was upside down and while her crew Jean Maurel was alright, sitting on the upturned hull, his skipper Paul Vatine was not. Maurel was down below at the time of the capsize, while Vatine was on deck. Exactly how the boat capsized is unclear at this stage.

The weather conditions the fleet have experienced have turned the Transat Jacques Vabre from a yacht race into a fight for survival as they tackle the tail end of hurricane Irene. Ellen MacArthur, sailing with Yves Parlier on board the monohull, Aquitaine Innovations, and who is on course to the upturned multihull desribed the winds as being a steady 40 knots, gusting to 60 and with waves of 10-12m in height. Marc Guillemot’s trimaran Biscuits la Trinitaine which had pulled out of the race with a broken daggerboard just prior to the capsize is now standing by while a cargoship tries to make way upwind to the stricken vessel.

Vatine, 42, was among the top elite of French racing skippers, having competed at a top level in the multihull sailing circuit since the mid-1980s. He has twice won the Transat Jacques Vabre in 1993 and 1995 and came second in 1997.