Legendary multihull may not be recovered

The crew of the Tony Bullimore-owned Spirit of Antigua are heading back to the UK after being rescued from the 108ft catamaran in the Bay of Biscay.

The seven crew members were airlifted from the capsized maxi by French rescue services late on Wednesday night.

Bullimore, 71, was not on board at the time, but said: ‘I’m just thankful that all the guys, who are all enthusiastic seafarers, are safe and well.

‘It would be wrong at this stage to speculate about what exactly happened – we just need to get everyone back to their families and loved ones.’

Arrangements are being made to try and tow the catamaran back to shore.

But it is not yet known if a salvage is possible of the boat, which was formerly known as ENZA New Zealand (pictured above), when Sir Peter Blake and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston won the Jules Verne Trophy in 1994-95 for the fastest, non-stop, round-the-world voyage.

She was then bought by Tracy Edwards and renamed Royal SunAlliance for another Jules Verne Trophy attempt in

1998 with an all-female crew, but the boat was dismasted in the Southern Ocean.

Bullimore bought the boat to compete in the The Race in 2001, renaming it Team Legato and it has since also been called Team Daedelus.

He was planning to attempt to break the record for the fastest circling of Antarctica and the boat was on a trial run to northern Spain.

At the time of the capsize the weather was just Force 3-4, occasionally Force 5.

Skipper Ben Jones, 29, said: ‘There wasn’t that much wind – only about 15 knots. We were sailing fast and close to the wind.

‘We then had a big gust and because it’s a multihull, the apparent wind induces a much worse affect, so the boat powered up a lot very quickly.

‘At the same time the windward hull came off a wave, which got the hull lifting out. The rudder stalled. We couldn’t get the sheet off quickly enough so we couldn’t depower the boat.’

Subscribe to Yachting Monthly magazine for all the latest sailing news and reviews