Canadians Georges Leblanc and Marc Nadeau have lost their keel and Anne Caseneuve has dismasted

Georges Leblanc and Marc Nadeau were air-lifted off their Open 60 Ciments Saint-Laurent-Océan by a helicopter this morning at 0730hrs, which was sent to their aid by CROSS Jobourg. The boat lost its keel last night offshore in the Transat Jacque Vabre which started yesterday from La Havre. The other casualty of the first 24 hours was the trimaran of Anne Caseneuve and Christophe Houdet, which the Race Office was informed had dismasted, but the skippers have not called for assistance.

At 0500hrs French time, the Race Office were alerted that the alarm on the ARGOS beacon on board the Canadian Open 60 had been set off. Immediately, a helicopter was sent out to fly over the zone, which was 16 miles north of Cherbourg, and reported that Ciment Saint-Laurent-Océan was upside down without its keel at 49°55,6N-1°37,32W. The pilots could confirm that both safety beacons which had been set off were in the water, but that at that time of night they could not see either of the two skippers.

Therefore the Rescue Services initiated an immediate search over the whole zone, the winds were in excess of 30 knots and the sea was very rough. Then just as the light dawned one of the skippers appeared from the boat and was spotted by the helicopter, which engaged immediately in their airlift rescue procedure. Gérard Petipas, race organiser and director of the Transat Jacques Vabre, announced at 0745hrs French time that both skippers, Georges Leblanc and Marc Nadeau, were safe and sound.

Atlantic Nature informed the Race Office at 0700hrs French time that they had dismasted in the middle of the Channel at 50°04,8N-2°46W, North of Guernesey). Anne Caseneuve added: “The wind was up to 50 knots from the south-west and the mast came down at 0500hrs, breaking at the second spreader.” The trimaran has not requested assistance and is currently 30 miles off the French coastline working to find a way for them to be towed into a French port.