An injured yachtsman racing around the world in the Ocean Globe Race was successfully evacuated by long-range helicopter late on Monday in a dramatic rescue off the west coast of Africa.
Stéphane Raguenes, a crew member of the French racing yacht Triana (66), was airlifted by helicopter from a life raft in 2.5-metre seas approximately 225 miles from the island of Madeira after being injured on deck.
Stéphane is now in hospital on the island of Madeira where he is being treated for a severe laceration on the back of the leg.
On Sunday, Stéphane slipped on deck in heavy weather causing a serious 9cm-long, 3cm-wide open wound behind his knee. At the time he was taken below for first aid to stop the blood. He was sedated, given pain killers and was conscious, talking to his crew mates.
The Ocean Globe Race control raised the alert to Code Red on Monday morning when Triana’s skipper Jean d’Arthuys requested an evacuation by helicopter or military ship after a difficult night for Stéphane with continued loss of blood.
After the accident of our crew member Raguenes yesterday I was worried with weak wind and still two days to reach Madeira, so I asked Don McIntyre this morning to launch an evacuation plan. I thank Don, the OGR organisation and all the rescue international teams French and Portugese for the incredible speed and professionalism of the helicopter and and aircraft. Raguenes is safe, all the crew is happy and we are now back on track sailing to Cape Town.
– Jean d’Arthuys, skipper of Triana.
The skipper had planned to make for Las Palmas and later Madeira, but light winds and engine failure combined to signal an immediate medical evacuation was the only safe option.
The Triana crew launched an eight-man life raft and Stéfane was assisted into the raft by three crew members: Xavier Haize, Titouan Dourmap and Max de Montgolfier. The raft was tethered to the stern of Triana by a 12-metre line.
At 1645 UTC Stéphane was successfully winched out of the life raft into the helicopter and transported to hospital on the island of Madeira.
The rescue was carried out by the Portuguese Rescue Coordination Center with support from the Portuguese military and French Griz Nez Rescue Coordination Centre.
A fixed-wing aircraft had been dispatched to the scene ahead of the helicopter.
Triana, now sailing off the west African coast, is one of 14 entrants competing in the race around the world that started in Southampton on September 10. The Swan 53 is currently lying first in the Adventure class and seventh overall in the race.
Triana is one of the smaller yachts in the race, with a crew of just eight, is leading the Adventure class by quite a margin despite being forced to stop racing for four hours on the third night to repair a broken steering cable.
She is considered by many as the one to watch. Skipper Jean d’Arthuys is a French media entrepreneur and wine maker and first mate Sébastien Audigane is a well known sailor with six passages round Cape Horn and two Jules Verne around the world records.
The eight-month adventure is split into four legs, sailing around the three great Capes: Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, Australia’s Cape Leeuwin, and South America’s notorious Cape Horn. The course follows the original Clipper route, stopovers will include: Cape Town, Auckland and Punta del Este.
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