Florence and her machine

French solo sailing star Florence Arthaud went overboard while going to the loo but called her mum on her mobile phone and was saved from the Mediterranean waters by rescuers after her mother alerted them, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Ms Arthaud, winner in 1990 of the Route du Rhum single-handed transatlantic sailing race, was located and rescued near the island of Corsica thanks to a headlamp and the GPS system on her phone.

A small wave hit the boat and knocked her overboard while she was taking a toilet break without her usual harness, she said. “I quite simply fell into the water while preparing to take a pee,” the 54-year-old told BFM television.

Ms Arthaud, alone on her 10-metre (33ft) yacht The Argade II when she fell overboard, managed to hold her phone, encased in a waterproof covering, above water and call her mother in Paris to raise the alarm. Her mother alerted a rescue team, which set off in search of the sailor.

Ms Arthaud, one of the most respected female sailors in the world, was sailing for her own pleasure when the incident occurred. She spent almost two hours in the water before being rescued, and was suffering from hypothermia.