A two-hour rescue from the storm-swept Atlantic saved Swiss singlehander Bernard Stamm and crew Damien Guillou of France when their Open 60 Cheminées Poujoulat broke up in 45-knot winds about 180 miles off Brest, the yacht’s home port.
The yacht was being delivered back after narrowly avoiding sinking in the Transat Jacques Vabre, which started from Le Havre in November. A distress signal was answered by RAF and Royal Navy rescue helicopters but they could not effect an evacuation.
A fixed wing aircraft was able to drop additional liferafts, but they were swept away in the violent seas and many other ships were themselves sheltering from the storms which have also swept across Britain.
Eventually, in an operation which took two hours, the men were pulled aboard a Norwegian freighter en route for Rotterdam. Both are safe and uninjured.
In San Francsico the mayor, Ed Lee, announced that the city wished to continue to host the America’s Cup. The 35 is expected to be staged in August 2017 unless a rival city successfully bids to replace the Calfornian city which is home to the holder and successful 2013 defender Oracle Team USA.
The recently knighted Ben Ainslie, who played an important part in staging a comeback by Oracle from 1-8 down to beat Team New Zealand 9-8, is hoping to put a British challenge together and is thought at least to have a starting budget to contract key people.
He welcomed the thought of the venue being fixed and is waiting for the protocol rules on the boat and shape of the competition, which is being hammered out between Oracle and the Australian lead challenger from Hamilton Island and which is headed by the racing boss of AC34, Iain Murray.
Sir Ben is also due to announce at the London Boat Show an entry by his team in the 2014 Extreme Series, staged in 40-foot catamarans, whose first regatta is in Singapore in February.
Also in Australia, record-threatening weather conditions are forecast for the 94 yachts entered in the annual Sydney to Hobart Race, which starts on Boxing Day. Defending the record is the challenger for the challenger for the America’s Cup, Bob Oatley, and has 100-foot Wild Oats, which has so many performance-enhancing appendages it is also known as the Swiss army knife.