Fear for Vendee sailor who may have capsized

The French sailor Jean Le Cam competing in the Vendee Globe single-handed around-the-world yacht race is experiencing serious difficulties on board his boat VM Matériaux, it was reported this morning.

At 0026 GMT Le Cam, 49, informed his shore team that he was in distress 200 miles west of Cape Horn. He was able to telephone his shore team in France to inform them that he was experiencing problems on board his monohull. It is possible that he was capsizing, as the phone went dead at that point. The boat was located at 56° 17′ S and 73° 46′ W. At the time, the weather conditions were generating 25-knot westerly to south-westerly winds with stronger gusts.

Immediately the MRCC (International Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) was alerted and Vincent Riou (PRB) and Armel Le Cléac’h (Brit Air) have changed course to go to the area in which Le Cam was sailing. They should reach the area at around 1300 (GMT). The Sarsat-Cospas distress beacon on Le Cam’s monohull was triggered at 0140 (GMT).

A cargo ship and an aircraft are on their way to the area to intervene as quickly as possible. Chile is three hours behind GMT: in Punta Arenas, the sun goes down at 2200 (local time, or 0100 GMT) and comes up at 0530 (local time, or 0830 GMT). It was therefore dark where Le Cam’s distress beacon was triggered at 0140 (GMT).

The MRCC contacted a cargo ship 65 miles from the position of VM Matériaux, as identified by the Sarsat-Cospas beacon: the ship is expected to reach the area at around 1030 GMT. A Chilean spotter plane is being prepared to head for the zone at daybreak, at around 0830 (GMT).

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