Photo: Don Emmert / AFP / DPPI / IDEC

UPDATED: IDEC capsizes

Disaster for sailing legend Francis Joyon soon after start of solo transat attempt

Monday August 22nd 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

Francis Joyon aboard his 100ft maxi trimaran IDEC capsized this morning around 05:00 GMT off New York, having just started his attempt on the singlehanded west to east transatlantic record.

Joyon had passed the start line off the Ambrose Light at 00:08:10 GMT this morning and at the time of capsize IDEC had been sailing in 25 knots form the south when allegedly she was hit by a violent squall.

Joyon was not injured in the incident and has been in contact with his route Jean-Yves Bernot. He is likely to remain on board until a tug arrives capable of towing IDEC back to safety.

This afternoon from IDEC's upturned hull Joyon, quiet calm as usual, explained what had occurred. 

"I was in my seat to watch what was going on outside the boat. I was in the process of extricate myself from a meteorologically disturbed area close to the American coast. [Since starting] I had managed to sail about 90 miles in very irregular and highly unstable wind, shifting in direction and fluctating between 10 and 30 knots. I went through some very intense squalls, marked by violent gusts, but it was when I thought I was leaving this area that I received a massive gust that catapulted the boat on its side.

At the time I was sailing under triple reefed mainsail and with the small ORC [storm jib]. The violence of the squall was such that the sensor, and the anti-capsize alarm did not have time to go off. The wind continued to build very violently and I felt the boat literally catapulted into the air. Within seconds, I was 'on the roof'. I found myself under water, beneeath the nets. I tried to guide myself back to open air. It was night and chaos. Eventually, I made it to one of the floats. I'm not sure how I reached the forward beam but I was able to climb up onto the platform. I then got inside the boat through the escape hatch.

"I don't think IDEC has suffered too much. I have about 10 cm of water down below. I have managed to save the electronics. I was able to retrieve my Iridium phone to report the capsize. I have a very powerful flash light and as the boat has drifted onto a major shipping lane into New York, I spent the last of the night on deck signalling my presence to freighters.

It's daytime now and I can assess what danger there is. I am in contact hourly with Christophe Houdet on land. I know that many people are mobilising to find a tug. I know I am only 50 miles from Newport, Rhode Island. The boat seems intact and I know the rig does seem to be bumping against the platform. The sea state is relatively calm and the air temperature quite bearable. I have something to eat. Once a towing vessel arrives, I will be able to dump the rig, and perhaps consider a righting operation to facilitate towing..."

Read more about IDEC the boat here

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