Belgium skipper visits Portugese beach

Belgium skipper Patrick de Radigues recounted earlier today how he miraculously escaped with his life after he was knocked unconscious during a gybe.

De Radigues, the flamboyant Monaco-based motor racing driver who took part in the Vendee Globe four years ago, was this year sailing the hot Berret/Racoupeau designed Open 50 La Libre Belgique. While other competitors in the Vendee Globe had gone west after rounding Cape Finisterre to be first to pick up the northwesterly reaching conditions, de Radigues chose a route close to the Portugese coast. Last night, mid-way through a gybe a sheet got caught round his foot tripping him over and knocking him unconscious.

The next thing he remembers is being woken up by two coastguards. While he was unconscious his yacht had run up onto a beach near Lisbon and at the time he awoke was lying on her side in the surf while her skipper was laid out in the cockpit. De Radigues says he doesn’t know for how long he was unconscious. “I haven’t got much to say. I can only make suppositions.” However he acknowledged just how lucky he had been. “I’m amazed. If I’d fallen in the water that would have been it,” he said. In the event his only injury is to his head, which he believes hit a winch (he can’t remember, but he has a head wound and he found blood on the winch).

The Portugese coastguards pulled him off the boat and after a trip to the hospital de Radigues was today arranging for a crane to salvage the boat which he had chartered for the Vendee Globe.