Sailing: Stamm rescued by tanker as Atlantic storms batter race

There was drama in the Transat race yesterday as the tanker Emma was diverted to rescue Bernard Stamm from his upturned yacht about 360 miles south of Newfoundland.

There was drama in the Transat race yesterday as the tanker Emma was diverted to rescue Bernard Stamm from his upturned yacht about 360 miles south of Newfoundland.

The Swiss sailor was picked up from his vessel in seas only just beginning to calm after storm-force winds. Rescuers were alerted when the ocean racer activated his distress beacon early in the morning.

Aboard the Emma, Stamm said: "I had tried to reduce the speed of the yacht when it was doing 20 knots and had been surfing at 27 knots and the keel was moving rapidly. About 10 seconds after that the keel broke and the yacht went on to its side.

"I knew I was in trouble and after that the yacht capsized and I was finished. It was full of water and I was just praying to get out. I turned on the emergency switch and then took to the life raft and tied it to the stern and I knew I had food and water."

He said the broken keel had been: "a conception that cannot work at high speed."

A second dismasting ended the chances of Vincent Riou, a potential race winner, though a world record was in sight for a man who is already a round-the-world winner. Meanwhile, British boats moved into first and second places in the original - and hardest - singlehanded transatlantic race, run this year over a 2,800-mile course from Plymouth to Boston.

Stamm, who in 2001 set the west-to-east transatlantic record in the same boat, Armor Lux, had already felt the tell-tale vibrations when his 60-foot yacht - which was in the lead but hammering through 40-knot winds and big seas - lost its keel. Once overturned, Stamm set off his emergency signal and contacted the Marine Rescue Coordination Centre.

A Royal Canadian Air Force Hercules from Greenwood, Nova Scotia, made visual and audio contact with Stamm, and arranged the diversion of the commercial ship, supported by the European Fisheries protection vessel Jean Charicot.

"It is really difficult to guess what might have happened, but it is obvious he lost a large part of his ballast package," said the British designer Merfyn Owen. The hull was designed to take exactly the loads which were being exerted by the gales and the bumpy seas "so something else must have gone wrong," added Owen. Stamm's survival suit would have helped maintain his body temperature.

Things were also going wrong for Riou, who was dismasted after driving PRB into second place behind Stamm and ahead of Britain's Mike Golding in Ecover and the Kiwi Mike Sanderson in Pindar. Riou had slipped to third when he lost his mast and boom about 500 miles south of Newfoundland.

Golding held a slender lead and had to cope with his own problems. As soon as the race started he lost the hydraulic power which switches the keel from side to side. He has since been pumping it into position by hand. He then temporarily lost the use of his autopilots yesterday morning. But approaching 1,100 miles to the finish Golding had a lead of just seven miles over Sanderson and will need both guile and physical stamina if he is to overcome the vagaries of the weather.

Nearly 700 miles ahead of him, Michel Desjoyeaux, who won the Vendée Globe singlehanded round-the-world race in 2000-2001, but has since switched to multihull racing, was approaching the 400-mile barrier in Géant having seen his lead cut to 50 miles by Thomas Coville in Sodebo. Both should finish today and cut over 24 hours off the record of nine days, 23hr, 21min set in 2000 by Francis Joyon, the man who recently set a new record for sailing the 90 trimaran Idec solo around the world.

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
Sport
Wayne Rooney warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane
football
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
News
Danielle George is both science professor and presenter
people
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have previous experience...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015