Dramatic rescue as race hit by wild weather

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The Independent Online

A distress signal from the 60-foot yacht BT in the Transat Jacques Vabre sent a French navy frigate, with a helicopter onboard, racing to the rescue of Sebastien Josse and Jean-Francois Cuzon today as the Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre at Falmouth also swung into action. The pair was lifted off by a Portuguese Air Force helicopter about eight hours later and was being flown to the Lajes Field air force base of Terceira in the Azores.

The stricken yacht, which is part of Dame Ellen MacArthur’s Offshore Challenges in Cowes, was at the limit of helicopter range, 210 miles north of the Azores. It was thought to be two thirds full of water after suffering major coachroof damage and being pounded by seas that had been whipped up by winds of up to 60 miles an hour overnight.

The rest of the 13 boats in the race fleet were alerted, as was all commercial shipping. First to report any visual contact was the Bahamas-registered scientific research vessel Ocean Explorer.

Running for cover and damage repair was the Artemis pairing of Sam Davies and Sidney Gavignet, Roland Jourdain and Jean-Luc Nelias have mast damage on Veolia, but Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson, who took a hike to the masthead, have repaired wind instrument damage. And the British pairing of Mike Golding and Javier Sanso moved up to second place behind Marc Guillemot and Charles Caudrelier-Benac in Safran.

Listen to Ray Davies of Team New Zealand talk to Stuart Alexander:

In a much calmer Nice, Britain’s Team Origin inflicted the first defeat on Emirates Team New Zealand in the Louis Vuitton Trophy series but still finished third at the end of the first round robin after then losing to the Italian team Azzurra.

“We should have matched them right at the beginning of the run, but we didn’t and the opportunity never arose again to come back. We knew we were in trouble but we are making more right decisions than wrong. We have improved a lot through the round.”

Origin, which is Britain’s challenger for the America’s Cup once the head to head between the Swiss holder Alinghi and the San Francisco-based BMW Oracle is resolved, finished third of the eight teams competing in Nice. ETNZ leads, because despite being equal on points, it had beaten Azzurra. If Origin had beaten Azzurra it would have been top because it had beaten ETNZ.

A BMW Oracle entry with Gavin Brady and Hamish Pepper running the boat hung on in equal fourth with Sweden’s Artemis but the two home teams are struggling, the Franco-German co-operative All 4 One having just one win and Marc Pajot’s Page Jaunes yet to score any victory at all.