Guillemot on the spot to talk Eliès through ordeal

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The Independent Online

The Vendee Globe yachtsman lying helpless with a broken thigh as his boat is thrown about the Southern Ocean will have to endure until 11am today before an Australian frigate can reach him.

However, Yann Eliès now has a fellow competitor alongside him, although the only help is psychological as boarding is simply too dangerous.

Marc Guillemot managed to reach Eliès at 11pm on Thursday and has since been sailing a parallel course while talking to his stricken fellow Frenchman on the radio.

Britain's Sam Davies, who was also asked to divert and help by officials controlling the single-handed round the world race, was expected to arrive today, as was the Royal Australian Navy's Arunta, which had been steaming from Perth at 30knots for 41 hours.

"The sea is rough, with about 20 knots of wind," Guillemot said. "I'm going to try to get close to his stern and toss him a bottle of water. I'm just trying to talk to him to reassure him. The subject doesn't matter. He knows he can rely on me. It's the head that looks after the rest of the body. That will help him while he awaits the arrival of the rescue team."

Guillemot will not attempt to jump across to Eliès' boat. "It would be far too dangerous to bring the boats together," said David Adams, the race's safety consultant. "The masts could lock and come down, disabling both boats. There is a big chance that Marc could get into trouble. These are big boats and big seas."

Eliès broke his thigh when he was thrown against the deck of his 60ft yacht on Thursday morning. He managed to crawl below decks and contact the race doctor, who diagnosed the fracture. Motivated by Guillemot's encouraging words, Eliès has since managed to eat a cereal bar, drink some concentrated lemon juice and condensed milk, and reach a bag containing painkillers.

Of the 30-strong fleet that set out from France on the three-month race in November, 12 have had to pull out. The Frenchman Michel Desjoyeaux is leading, with 12,500 miles to go.

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