Sébastien Simon sustains damage after collision with UFO (VG update 2Dec20)

Sébastien Simon’Arkea Paprec has collided with a UFO this morning.

Reports state that Sébastien Simon is not injured but his starboard foil is damaged: the low wedge (low fulcrum of the foil, junction between the foil and the boat) and the foil well (it is in this well that the foil crosses the boat) are no longer attached to the boat.

Simon is doing everything he can to get the situation under control, particularly in anticipation of heavy seas and sustained winds to come tonight. 

The Vendée Globe continues to be led by Charlie Dalin on Apivia as he tackles the Indian Ocean, ahead of Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) and Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2).

After being rescued from his life raft by Jean Le Cam in big seas and strong winds some 840 nautical miles South West of Cape Town, Kevin Escoffier has been recovering on board Le Cam’s boat, Yes We Cam!

Escoffier abandoned his IMOCA 60 PRB within what he later estimated to be two minutes when his boat virtually broke in two after burying its nose in a wave. He was racing in five metre waves and 25 knot South Westerly winds. Escoffier only had time to grab his survival suit before being washed off the boat and clambering into his life raft which automatically inflated.

“I’m doing pretty well, pretty well, much better than last night,” says Escoffier. “It’s still hard for me to believe it, to believe that I broke the boat inside the wave at 90 degrees. I should have taken a picture for people to believe me.

“Just after the wave, the bow was pointing at 90 degrees from the stern of the boat, and all the water was coming forward. The water level inside rose very fast and I had a very short time to decide what to do.

“I’ve been thinking about getting on the life raft and if I should have waited. But it’s done, it’s done. Should I have been trying to stay a bit longer on the boat? It might have been better for people to find me but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to stay the night on the boat. Because the water that was already above the deck level it was too dangerous. I was better in the life raft.

“It’s unbelievable what happened. The boat folded up on a wave at 27 knots. I heard a bang, but to be honest, I didn’t need to hear that to know what had happened. I looked at the bow.

“It was at 90°. In a few seconds, there was water everywhere. The stern was under water and the bow was pointing up to the sky. The boat split in half in front of the mast bulkhead. It was as if she folded up. I promise. I’m not exaggerating. There was an angle of 90° between the stern and the bow.

“I didn’t have time to do anything. I just had time to send a message to my team. I’m sinking I’m not joking. MAYDAY. Between the moment when I was out on deck trimming the sails and when I found myself in my survival suit, barely two minutes had passed. It all happened extremely quickly.

“I came out of the boat and put on my survival suit. I could see smoke. The electronics were burning. Everything went off. My only reflex was to grab my telephone to send the message and pick up the survival suit which I never stow away. I wanted to pick up the grab bag, but I couldn’t get to it with the water rising. I grabbed the life raft at the stern. I couldn’t get into it as it was three metres under the water. The water was up to the door in the cockpit.

“I was going to stay the whole night in the life raft, that was what I was thinking, it was okay for me, it was safer to switch from one to the other with less winds and less waves. I spent the night quite well, I mean I wasn’t comfortable, but in my head it was better, I was sure that the day after someone would be coming with less winds and less waves, and then I’d be able to get from the life raft to the boat.

“I had a bit of trouble sleeping during the night, I had been eating a bit and drinking the water I had on board. Close to the morning I heard a sail flapping so I got out, had my head out of the life raft and I saw it wasn’t dark anymore because of the moon, even with no sun we were able to see very well and I saw Jean just above me, at 100/200 metres from me, I asked him ‘Now, we’re doing it now?’ and he said ‘Yes yes let’s do it now’ and he told me ‘I will come against you’.

“He wanted to have his boat parallel to the life raft but he was a bit too fast and it was five metres away, I don’t know exactly, where he threw me a line with a buoy at the end which I caught. And both of us pulled it to get the life raft as close as possible to his boat, and when I was close enough I jumped and caught the back of the boat.

“He said ‘Are you on board, are you on board Kevin?’ He was very happy.

“I said, ‘Yes I am on, I’m sorry to disturb your race Jean.’ We had a big hug.”

Race directors are discussing a plan to evacuate Escoffier on to the French Navy’s Nivôse a Floréal-class frigate at the Kerguelen Islands but this has yet to be confirmed by the authorities.

Meanwhile the International Jury will convene in the next few days to discuss time compensations for the skippers whose races were delayed while they were engaged in the rescue mission. This process takes into account not only the actual time lost when the sailors were away from their race route, but also any significant changes in their racing conditions – wind and routing – caused by the delay.

Hear from skippers around the fleet

Pip Hare is approaching Southern Ocean with trepidation

“I’ve spent a day with a meteorologist and talked about weather patterns. It’s one thing looking at it on a dining room table, it’s another seeing it in reality.

“It’s a pretty wild ride. Medallia is flying. It’s pretty wet but she’s easily a 18 knots at the moment and surfing at 22.

“We’re pushing on hard to stay ahead of this front.

“It’s spectacular sailing. It’s incredible. I’m on high alert. But Medallia feels strong, feels solid, and feels to me like we’re doing the right thing.”

Watch Hare’s ‘wild ride’ in yet another super clip (20.16 1Dec20)

Sam Davies has reiterated her relief that Escoffier is safe

This is the moment Davies crossed the Greenwich Meridian.

Miranda Merron is in an increasingly unstable wind

“At times, the wind is very light and just when I think I am bounding outside to jibe, the wind comes in again, forcing me to extend my route to the South East, which actually happens to be the right direction where we should all go.

“There are a few small clouds in a night, moreover, perfectly illuminated by the moon. If the clouds disappear, there is a strong fear that the wind will do the same.

“It was baking heat yesterday, the sun was beating down on the cockpit, scorching all that is black on board, impossible to touch. Small dinner last night in the fridge in the cockpit. Life is not that bad. In a few days, it will be much cooler; so I’m not complaining!” (08.45 2Dec20)

Alex Thomson has sent his condolences to the PRB team

“We are relieved beyond words that Kevin Escoffier is now safe onboard Yes We Cam. Congratulations to Jean Le Cam for showing such phenomenal seamanship and to our fellow skippers, Boris Hermann, Sébastien Simon and Yannick Bestaven who offered vital support with the rescue mission.

“Thank you also to the Vendée Globe race direction for managing this series of events so very well. It is not easy. To the PRB team, we understand your pain. And we send our condolences, our support and great strength. A stark reminder that the Vendée Globe is unlike anything else in the world. Alone but very much together.” (12.52 1Dec20)

Watch a round-up of yesterday’s news

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