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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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: Client Services Assistant

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client Services Assistant is ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior / Senior Sales Broker - OTE £100,000

£20000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportuni...

Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Duty Manager is required to join one of the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Leader

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Team Leader is required to join one of the l...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor