2200hrs UTC NEWS UPDATE
Race Direction of the Vendée Globe requested the assistance of three competing skippers, Germany’s Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco), Yannick Bestaven (Maître CoQ IV) and Sébastien Simon (ARKEA PAPREC) to help Jean Le Cam (Yes We Cam!) in the mission to retrieve solo skipper Kevin Escoffier from his life raft after the 40 year old from Saint Malo had to abandon his IMOCA 60 PRB this Monday afternoon after activating his distress beacon.
Escoffier was racing in third place on the 22nd day of the solo non stop around the world race, at some 840 nautical miles SW of Cape Town, when his PRB got into difficulties and he was forced to take to his liferaft.
He alerted his technical team at 1346hrs UTC this afternoon, telling them he had significant amounts of water coming into the boat and immediately triggered his yacht's distress beacon. PRB was positioned at 40deg55S 9deg16E at the time the distress beacon was activated.
Race Direction of the Vendée Globe alerted MRCC Cape Town and CROSS Griz Nez who have been collaborating in a rescue operation. The skipper closest to Escoffier’s position, Jean Le Cam, who is competing on his fifth Vendée Globe, immediately responded to the request to divert to Escoffier’s position.
Guided by Race Direction Le Cam arrived on zone around 1615hrs UTC and quickly established visual and voice contact with Escoffier who was in his liferaft but he was unable to retrieve him in the big, 5m, seas and 20-25 knot winds.
As he was manoeuvring to prepare to get closer to the liferaft Le Cam lost sight of the liferaft and could not establish radio contact nor to pick up the signal from the AIS the range of which was reduced by the heavy seas.
He lost sight of Escoffier in the dying light but has continued to try and locate him, Le Cam is communicating regularly with Race Direction and the rescue authorities. The three other skippers are now in, or are approaching the search area. The positioning of Kevin Escoffier's personal beacon (AIS MOB Man Over Board) emits HF radiowaves and will only be detected in the local zone.
The four skippers will follow a protocol established by Race Direction in coordination with Jean Le Cam. They will approach with three reefs in the mainsail and the engine idling. A grid search area for the zone has been established and will be carried out by the four IMOCAs who are set to provide assistance.
The PRB shore crew said that besides his AIS Mob, Kevin Escoffier also means to signal his presence in the liferaft. Daybreak tomorrow morning is around 0340hrs UTC in this zone and the search will be ongoing.
This press release has been drawn up jointly with the Vendée Globe and Team PRB.