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Prince de Bretagne capsizes

Disaster for Lionel Lemonchois mid-South Atlantic

Tuesday January 28th 2014, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Having set off Friday before last on his attempt to break Francis Joyon's record for sailing from Port Louis in Brittany to Port Louis in Mauritius, Lionel Lemonchois' 80ft trimaran Prince de Bretagne has capsized.

Yesterday at 15:57 Prince de Bretagne's EPIRB was triggered. At the time the year old trimaran was passing to the east of Isla de Trindade (once a mark of the Volvo Ocean Race course), some 800 miles off the Brazilian coast, in a southeast wind of 16-8 knots

The MRCC Gris-Nez in France (the coastguard) contacted the Prince de Bretagne team to inform them of the beacon alert. 

Lemonchois, best known for his emphatic win in the 2006 Route du Rhum while sailing for the Gitana team, managed to get a call through to his shore team early yesterday evening. He confirmed that the trimaran had capsized in a gust. Although he has injured his hand, he is safe inside the boat and has cut away the rig, to ensure it does no more damage to the hulls. 

Lemonchois intends to stay on board the upturned hull of the trimaran as his shore team arranges a rescue. The MRCC in France continues to monitor his situation as his shore team scramble to Brazil to find a tug to go out to the stricken vessel. Although a rescue will take several days to mount, Lemonchois says he is okay for both food and fresh water.

Latest Comments

  • David Bains 04/02/2014 - 15:30

    I think we need to distinguish between the Irens designed Idec and Sodebo which were always of moderate beam and meant to be sailed (and reefed!) solo, and the two flipped MOD 70s and possibly Prince de Bretagne. These latter three are much wider and more powerful with huge flat top mains and so often in pics seem to be flying the central hull. Obviously the MODs were flipped with crews onboard, altho only two in VP's case. Lionel on PdB altho hugely experienced was presumably caught out by a gust in the SE trades, not extreme conditions, as Joyon was on Idec. Projecting forward, altho I know Cammas and Le Cleach have both managed a trade wind Atlantic crossing solo on BPexGroupama, but it does seem alarming that now Guichard plans to enter the RduRhum on SpindriftexBP at 130ft!! Apparently he will set off if wx fcst is good but not if it isn't, since he cannot reef the main alone!!!! I do think the organisers should be considering some upper size limit for solo sailors, or will they wait until there is an another "accident"!
  • James Boyd 03/02/2014 - 13:22

    Richard Lema writes: Your comment on Prince de Bretagne capsizing brought back memories of years past when it was unfortunately not uncommon for a multihull to either capsize (too many to mention), or for the skipper to vanish during a race. For example, Loic Caradec who was lost during the 1986 Route du Rhum while sailing the 25.9 meter catamaran Royale II. The announcement of Yann Guichard sailing the 40 meter trimaran Spindrift 2 in the 2014 Route du Rhum alone reminded me of Alain Colas sailing the 72 meter (236 foot) Club Méditerranée in the 1976 Trans-Atlantic race. At that time, most of the sailing press was horrified at the thought of a lone sailor attempting to sail a 236 foot boat alone, as Club Méditerranée was possibly capable of sinking a small ship if he hit it at high speed. Club Méditerranée at the start of the 1976 Trans-Atlantic race Since the 1976 Trans-Atlantic race, multihulls have increased is size from the 70ft catamaran Kriter II, to the 40 meter (131 foot) Spindrift 2. I have a serious question with a solo sailor handling a 40 meter boat: "Can a solo skipper release the sheets, and turn a 40 meter boat by themselves in time to avoid a small craft if one suddenly appears directly in front of them? Or does someone, or maybe even a group of people aboard a small ocean-going sailboat, or even small power vessel get to enjoy the glory of being run down by a solo sailor on a giant race boat designed to be sailed by more than a dozen top racers?" The skippers sailing these boats are obviously the some of the best sailors in the world, and they are extraordinarily talented. However, they are not the only ones out there on the ocean, and this "Hey, look at me sailing this huge thing by myself" attitude could possibly cost someone other than the solo skipper their life. That's a very high price for a pleasure boater to pay for someone's ego.
  • James Boyd 28/01/2014 - 16:39

    We hope Lionel is going to be okay. Allegedly being inside a capsized trimaran is a relatively tranquil place to be... But this, Joyon's capsize in 2011 -, and Spindrift ( and Virbac Paprec (, haven't done much for the safety record of 'supposedly safer' modern racing multihulls, either solo or fully crewed...

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