Bullimore's Spirit of Antigua has capsized in the Bay of Biscay during a shakedown sail

Reports are coming in that the crew of Spirit of Antigua, the 105-foot catamaran owned by ocean racing legend Tony Bullimore and previously named Enza and Daedalus, have had to be rescued 150-miles off the coast of Brest after their yacht capsized. All crewmembers are safe and well at a French military base.

The distress beacons were deployed at around 19:00 BST yesterday evening (27 October). There was no severe weather at this time.

Spirit of Antigua had been moored in Bristol’s docks for more than a year, and was on its way across the Bay of Biscay to Spain undergoing shakedown tests. The skipper, Ben Jones (29), led a crew of seven on the trip.

Before setting off last week, Ben explained: “It is exciting to be setting off on a trip but there is also a degree of anxiety. It’s like driving a Formula One car which can do 200mph – it’s normal to have a certain amount of anxiety.”

In an interview with the French press yesterday Ben said that they were hit by a sudden gust of wind. “The catamaran accelerated from 15 to 30 knots and we were not able to slow her down.”

Ben and his crew had hoped to prepare the yacht for Tony Bullimore’s next expedition – a 12,500-mile voyage around Antarctica next year.

An operation is now underway to recover and salvage the boat.