VM Matériaux upside down in the water


The Chilean search-and-rescue aircraft deployed to assist Jean Le Cam, following his distress call at 0140 (GMT), this morning flew over the area at 0945 and has confirmed sight of his IMOCA 60,VM Matériaux.

The yacht is reported to be upside down. It is not clear whether the keel is still attached.

The cargo vesselSanangol Kassagie, a 180-tonne petrol tanker, diverted to the scene, is currently less than one mile from Le Cam’s position and has also got his yacht in sight.

No contact has yet been made with the single-handed sailor, however his yacht’s second EPIRB was activated at 0850 (GMT) this morning.

Conditions in the area are believed to be winds of 25-30 knots, gusting 40 knots, with a rough sea state of 4m-5m. The captain of theSanangol Kassagieis understood to be working out how best to assist Le Cam, 49.

Vincent Riou, aboardPRB, one of two skippers diverted to assist Le Cam, reported that he was talking to the French skipper when a strange noise was heard on boardVM Matériaux. Le Cam, a married father of two, contacted his shore team indicating that he thought the boat was about to capsize.

Le Cam came second in the last Vendee Globe, in 2004, less than seven hours behind Riou after 87 days and 10 hours battling sleep deprivation and rough seas. Le Cam was lying in third place in the race this morning before he made the distress call. Since the start of the 26,000-mile race at Les Sables d’Olonne, France, in November last year more than half of the 30-strong fleet have pulled out, including the French sailor Yann Elies who was rescued in the Southern Ocean by the Australian Navy after he broke his leg.

Three Britons – Mike Golding, Alex Thomson and Jonny Malbon – have also retired from the race.