Franck Proffit, steering at the time and suffering from suspected broken ribs, was lifted from Groupama II when it pitch-poled end over end about 40 miles off the Canary Islands. His co-skipper, Franck Cammas, stayed on board the stricken yacht to organise salvage.
The capsize, which brings to five out of 10 the number of trimarans which have retired, brings into question the suitability of these fast but accident-prone yachts for ocean racing.
Behind them, the gaps between the top four Open 60 monohulls were stretching as the remaining 10 yachts headed south of Madeira. But Ellen MacArthur, who is competing in the doublehanded classic with Roland Jourdain, was holding off both Jean le Cam, with Kito Pavant, and Mike Golding, partnered by Dominique Wavre, in a high-speed dash.
She had 25 miles to make up on the leader, Jean-Pierre Dick, with the hugely experienced Loick Peyron as his co-skipper.