With no energy on board since Sunday, January 6 after he hit an unidentified floating object, Bernard Stamm rounded Cape Horn this morning and met with his friend Unaï Basurko. The Basque sailor was sailing in the area for his personal projects and he provided diesel to the Cheminées Poujoulat skipper, making it possible for him to turn his batteries back on. Once the batteries have charged sufficiently, the Swiss will officially notify the Race Direction that he is retiring from the race in a few hours. He will then resume his route to Les Sables d’Olonne.
The Pakea Bizcaïa crew had been present in the area since the early morning and in constant contact with the Cheminées Poujoulat Team. They waited for Berard Stamm to round Cape Horn in 25 knots of wind to come and meet him. The Basque sailor embarked in a semi-rigid motor boat with two other crew members to take 30 litres of diesel to the 60-foot monohull. In the meantime, the Swiss skipper is moored in a quieter area so he could easily load the precious cargo. The tricky operation was successfully carried out and will now allow Bernard Stamm to resume charging his batteries. The reunion of the two sailors was an emotional one between two Velux Five Ocean Race skippers who are friends. It also marked the end of a true ordeal for Bernard, who had been sailing, since Sunday, without energy, without autopilot, in terribly cold and demanding conditions. After getting only five hours of sleep over the last three days, the Swiss skipper is completely exhausted and will now be able to get some rest.
In the evening, once his batteries are sufficiently charged and he is able to communicate again, Bernard Stamm will officially notify the Race Direction he is retiring from the 2012-2013 Vendée Globe. This is a process Bernard will go through by himself, strictly following the rules of the race, of the organisation, of the jury and of the competitors. He will therefore, no longer be a participant in the race but that does not mean the adventure is stopping there for Cheminées Poujoulat, who will keep sailing towards France. The solo sailor will actually do his best to be back in les Sables d’Olonne as fast as possible, honouring the unfailing support he received from his partners, friends and family but also carrying on the scientific data collection he started at the beginning of this round-the-world race through the Mini Lab operation. Before the race started, Bernard had said he was looking forward to experiencing the emotion of sailing through the channel again on his way back and that is precisely what the Swiss sailor hopes to do now.
The entire Cheminées Poujoulat team wishes to wholeheartedly thank Unaï Basurko and the Pakea Bizcaïa crew for their precious help and their response in these difficult moments. The competition outcome may not be the one we all expected, but their generosity gave this sailors’ story a very strong human dimension.