Vincent Riou and Armel Le Cléac'h describe the successful rescue of Jean Le Cam

Vinent Riou (PRB) and Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air) spoke to the Vendée Globe organizers in Paris yesterday evening, describing their successful rescue of Jean Le Cam from the capsized VM Matériaux.

Vincent Riou:

“Jean Le Cam is doing fine, after what was probably a very difficult experience. A few hours ago the rescue wasn’t certain. Le Cam’s boat was partly filled with water, so he was in the bow”.

Riou waited with Armel throughout the day to make sure they were there when he came out. They couldn’t contact him. On one sail past Riou noticed the hatch was broken open and Jean was out. He threw Le Cam a rope three times but unfortunately he couldn’t catch it and was forced to hang onto the rudder for 15 minutes.

Riou wasn’t sure whether Armel could help at that moment and so that’s why he moved closer. After failing three times to get a line to Le Cam, he started to feel desperate. On the fourth attempt Vincent moved closer, damaging his own boat in the process. Jean was able to reach the line. He wrapped the rope around himself and Vincent pulled him in on the winch.

Riou thought his boat was dismasted as the mast was at a 30° angle, but Jean said they could save the mast by gybing and the shrouds went tight again. If PRB had been dismasted they would have been in another difficult situation, so they had to do something quickly.

The incident began when he was on the phone with Jean [immediately before the capsize] and then all day long he has been speeding to the rescue, and then had a very trying wait today alongside not knowing what was going to happen. The tanker couldn’t do much to help either so it must have been difficult for them too.

There was a lot of communicating between the authorities and organizers, but the problem was the lack of communication between Jean and Vincent, as neither knew what the other was going to do. As a sailor, it’s the sort of thing you have to do. They are currently heading for Beagle Channel and Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego, Argentina) on PRB.

Armel Le Cléac’h:

“It’s a great relief as it’s been a highly emotional time. The main thing is that it has ended happily except for the damage to PRB.”

Armel arrived an hour after Vincent, who told him that he’d been in contact with Jean. They agreed to take it in turns to circle the boat. Vincent took over and Armel started busily working on his engine. When he returned he saw PRB’s rig over at an angle and broken outriggers.

Armel didn’t understand it at first and wondered what had happened, but was greatly relieved when he found out Jean was on board PRB. He followed them for about an hour, but once PRB was sailing under reduced sail, Armel got back on course to head for the Horn.

“I am not really concentrating on the race for the moment ? I need to eat. I have also lost my faithful companion, but I hope Vincent will be able to sail back to Les Sables ? he deserves that.”