Speaking this morning after being rescued Kevin Escoffier said,
“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.”
Organising my survival
“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 liferaft at the stern. Open I couldn’t get into it as it was three metres under the water. The water was up to the door in the cockpit.”
Jumping in the raft
“I would have liked to have stayed a bit longer on board, but I could see it was all happening quickly and a big breaker came and I was in the water with the liferaft. At that point I was not feeling very confident. Being in a raft in 35 knots of wind is not reassuring. I was only reassured when I saw Jean. But the problem was to find a way to get on board with him. We said a few words. It was a real battlefield out on the water. He was forced to move away, but I could see he remained close by. I stayed in the raft until early this morning.”
“I didn’t know whether the weather would ease enough to carry out a manoeuvre. He was 2 metres from me. He sent me a line, but it was difficult to stop the boat. In the end I managed to reach some tubing and lift myself aboard. The sea was still heavy with 3.5m high waves. It is hard in such conditions to climb aboard a 60’ boat, particularly as it is hard in the survival suit. It’s lucky I’m in good shape physically, as I can promise you it is not easy.”
Aboard Yes We Cam!
When I found myself on board with Jean, we hugged each other. He said to me. ‘Shit you’re aboard. That was tricky!’ I replied, ‘I have spoilt your race. You were doing so well.’ He replied, ‘That doesn’t matter. Last time it was me who upset Vincent’s race.’
“For the moment, I don’t know what will happen. We’ll sort that out with the Race Directors. I have just slept for 2 hours and am well rested. I have eaten something. I did all I could with the boat. I reinforced her and did everything. So I don’t have any regrets about what I did.”