Route du Rhum face favourite Franck Cammas capsizes his trimaran, Jean Le Cam promptly collides with it and damages his tri, and Michel Desjoyeaux is also making a pitstop for repairs

Late yesterday evening, Franck Cammas, skipper of the 60ft trimaran Groupama and one of the Route du Rhum race favourites, capsized in 12-15 knots of wind. He has since been rescued and taken aboard a French Coastguard vessel, and his boat is being towed to Roscoff.

Following shortly behind, Jean Le Cam, skipper of the trimaran Bonduelle ran straight into the upturned Groupama, suffering damage to his starboard float that will force him to put into Brest for repairs.

Meanwhile, Michel Desjoyeaux is also to make a pitstop after breaking a batten in an unexplained ‘incident close to the start’.

This statement was issed last night by the Route du Rhum press office:

‘At 2015 hrs yesterday evening Karine Fauconnier (Sergio Tacchini) called the race HQ at the Route du Rhum and signalled that Groupama had just capsized. She is in contact with the skipper Franck Cammas [via VHF], who she was able to hear over the radio. The conditions seemed to be moderate: 12 to 15 knots of wind. The position of Groupama at the time was 25 miles out to sea off Morlaix.

‘Franck Cammas immediately set off his distress beacon and the Cross Corsen (Coastguards) were able to intervene immediately, taking charge of the safety operations.

‘Jean Le Cam (Bonduelle) was extremely unfortunate in this pitch black night (their first at sea). He was following the same course as Groupama and rammed into the upturned trimaran. For the moment, Jean Le Cam has not suffered any serious damage. He is currently circling upwind of the upturned boat.’

Newsflash 2 at 2200 hours

‘In a press conference with a representative of Groupama, it was confirmed that Franck Cammas, like his sponsors, is very disappointed after such a flying start. Obviously their primary concern is for Franck. At the present time a helicopter is directly above him and they have given Franck the option of being airlifted straightaway or of staying on board so as to await a tug boat. [Since this statement was made Cammas has been taken on to the tug.]

‘After circling around Groupama for some time, Jean Le Cam continued on his way. He will make a stopover at Brest or in his base in Port-La-Forêt to repair his starboard float which, according to Jean, is damaged across an area of more than a metre.

‘[The wind angle] has enabled Le Cam to exit the Channel on a single tack. If the conditions hold he could arrive [in Brest] before the night tonight.

‘Other last minute news: Michel Desjoyeaux (Géant) is going to carry out a quick pitstop to repair a broken batten in his mainsail, which he broke in an incident close to the start. He intends to call in to Brest.’