Sailing: Stitch in time for solo yachtsman

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The Independent Online
THE French solo round-the-world yachtsman, Bertrand de Broc, lost second place in the Vendee Globe Challenge after having to carry out an operation on his tongue in an Atlantic storm. De Broc was hit full in the face by a rope while adjusting a sail on his boat, Groupe LG, in the early hours of Saturday morning and bit part of his tongue off.

After sending a distress call to the race headquarters in western France, a doctor telexed instructions on how to sew stitches into the wound. Dr Jean-Yves Chauve said that as far as he could tell, the nerves in the tongue did not seem to have been damaged. The race doctor stood in front of a mirror to imagine how the operation should be carried out and dictated the instructions to be sent. 'I swayed from side to side to simulate the storm conditions,' he said.

'Bertrand gave himself a local anaesthetic and then carried out the operation himself in appalling conditions. A wound like that produces a lot of blood. He must have been in a lot of distress.'

De Broc, who also injured an eye in the incident, reported back later to say the operation had been a success. Under Globe Challenge rules, entrants are not allowed to touch land nor receive outside help during the race, which started on 22 November.

De Broc has lost second place to Philippe Poupon in Fleury Michon. Alain Gauthier leads the race in Bagages Superior.

Race positions, Sport in Short, page 31

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