(Yvan Zedda)

The Maxi-trimaran "Banque Populaire IX" capsized around 12 am (French time) while sailing 340 miles in the northeast of the Azores. The boat seems to have capsized following the breakage of its port float. Armel Le Cléac'h, 41, is safe and sound. A rescue operation is in progress.

Armel Le Cléac'h was able to trigger his distress beacon and communicate with his technical team ashore. The Gris Nez CROSS took over the organization of the rescue, in coordination with the Race Direction and the Banque Populaire Team. The skipper is safe and secure inside the boat.

A first capsize in April …

The blow is hard for Team Banque Populaire, victim of a capsize last April off the coast of Morocco. A tumble occurred at night, while there were three on board, including a cameraman. A capsizing occurred at night in an oversold. At the time, the anti-capsize systems, in particular the automatic release of the sails, were not completely installed.
Then, it had been necessary to organize the recovery operations of the trimaran. A tow to Casablanca, a return by cargo to Lorient May 2, a first shipyard at Multiplast in Vannes, then a second to Lorient for a release in August. And an invoice estimated at nearly 2 million euros.

"I'm not traumatized by this capsize," said Armel Le Cléac'h, motivated and determined to come to the starting line on Sunday, November 4th. To be at the start of the Rum was for him a revenge after his hand injury four years ago. Injured, the skipper Saint-politain had to resolve to leave his place Loïck Peyron who had imposed a Guadeloupe.

Quick stop at Roscoff

This Rum 2018, Armel Le Cléac'h wanted to be. After a great start, he had to make a quick technical stop to repair a defective part, leaving his little comrades to escape.

After successive withdrawals of Sebastien Josse (Gitana 17) and Thomas Coville (Sodebo), the skipper of Banque Populaire had whipped to stay in the infernal rhythm imposed by François Gabart (Macif) but also Francis Joyon (Idec). Further west than its two main competitors, Le Cléac'h faced harsher conditions: 30-35 knots of wind and 5 meters of troughs.

According to the team, the trimaran capsized following the breakup of the port float. Fortunately, Armel Le Cléac'h, who capsized with Damian Foxall during the Transat Jacques Vabre in November 2005, is safe and sound. On the other hand, one can ask the question of the recovery of the boat. Last April, the operation was carried out smoothly when capsizing off the coast of Morocco, the weather being very lenient. This time, with a broken sea and another depression to come, it will not be easy to get a maxi-trimaran returned with a broken float. FYI, a Ultimate costs at least 12 million euros.

A plane takes off from Brest

The trimaran is found almost equidistant from the Azores and Lisbon: about 450 miles. The closest competitors are Vincent Riou (PRB) and Paul Meilhat (SMA). For now, the Portuguese MRCC has taken matters in hand, alerting the merchant ships present on the area. An airplane flew over the area.

At 14:13, the MRCC Punta Delgada / Azores (Maritime Rescue Coordination Center) informed us that a Portuguese plane was en route for an overflight of the boat to make a first identification. They should also provide information regarding the presence of merchant vessels or military vessels near the area. A little later, the maritime prefecture of Brest gave a takeoff clearance for a Falcon leaving the naval base of Lann Bihoué makes a tracking.

The day before, the bow of Gitana's starboard float had broken in roughly the same conditions, reaching (note: crosswind) The flying maxi-trimarans are exceptional machines that require at least two good years of setting on point. There, obviously, we must review the copy. There is a problem of structure. Solidity when, at high speed, the floats fall back and hit the water …
Sébastien Josse, Thomas Coville and Armel Le Cléac'h offside, they are only three in the queen of the Ultimate category. For now, François Gabart leads the debate and can not get rid of a Francis Joyon catchy devil. At the age of 62, with a 12-year-old boat, the Locmariaquer sailor made a remarkable run.
The third is none other than Romain Pilliard, organizer of the Tour de Belle Ile, who has entered the big leagues with the former trimaran of Ellen MacArthur. Pilliard is an enlightened amateur … who is heading for a podium in Ultimes. Who would've believed that ?


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