Big seas and high winds added to the drama of the rescue of the top French yachtsman, Laurent Bourgnon, last night. He had clung to his upturned yacht in the Atlantic, pounded by massive waves, as the wind gusted between 35 and 50 knots.
His 60ft trimaran Primagaz was lying fourth in the Europe 1 Singlehanded Transatlantic Race, which started from Plymouth on Sunday. It had capsized but with the port hull sticking up in the air, activating an automatic emergency warning beacon. He had manually activated another alarm yesterday morning, indicating he was still alive.
The Liberian bulk carrier, Long Challenger, rushed to the scene in an operation co-ordinated by the emergency services in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but could not at first lift him out of the water and it was several hours before he was safely on board. Bourgnon, whose exploits include crossing the Atlantic from west to east on an 18ft Hobie, was eventually able to swim over and climb up the pilot's ladder, and is now heading for Rotterdam.
Tim Law won the first race of the Hackett World Championship for the Etchells 22 in the Solent yesterday, after leading almost from start to finish.
A north-easterly breeze, shifting in direction by up to 30 degrees and rather patchy in strength, caught out the local favourite, Eddie Warwick, who went from second to sixth, and some of the foreign visitors, but Australia's Peter Conde came a credible fourth and Sweden's Nils Razmilowic, with David Bedford and Phil Lawrence as crew, was second in a top 10 dominated by eight Britons.
EUROPE 1 SINGLE-HANDED TRANSATLANTIC RACE Positions: Multi-hulls: 1 F Joyon (Banque Populaire) 1,542 miles to finish; 2 L Peyron (Fujicolor) 1,609; 3 P Vatine (Haute Normandie) 1,618. Monohulls: 1 V Malingri (Anicaflash) 1,986; 2 P Goss (Aqua Quorum) 1,988; 3 G Soldini (Telecom Italia) 1,994.