Vendée Globe emergency: PRB sinks, four skippers in area searching for Escoffier

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THE PRB STATEMENT

At 11:30 p.m. Italian time, the PRB team released an official statement on the facts:

“Kevin Escoffier activated the distress signal on his IMOCA PRB on Monday, Nov. 30, at 2:46 p.m. in the Roaring 40, on the 22nd day of racing in the Vendée Globe. Activated immediately by race directors, the search initiated by Jean Le Cam, the first to arrive in the area, continued with the support of three IMOCA boats, which were also diverted to the rescue.
Since Kevin Escoffier alerted his ground team that a waterway broke out on PRB on Monday at 2:46 p.m., rescue operations were activated immediately. Before leaving the boat, Kevin Escoffier activated the distress beacon, which was reported at position 40°55 South 9°16 East at the time of its activation.
Jean Le Cam was the first to be deflected by the race directors. At 5 p.m., the skipper of Yes We Cam! arrived in the area, guided by the race management. The positioning of Kevin Escoffier’s personal beacon (AIS MOB Man Over Board) emits HF waves and will only be detected by competitors in the area guided by the race director.
Jean Le Cam sails with 3 hands in the mainsail to maneuver better in 20 knots and 5-meter high waves. Eye contact has been made; the skipper from Port-la-Forêt sees the life raft, he also sees his fellow skipper, presumably equipped with his TPS survival suit, and an exchange of voice between the two men takes place.
When Jean le Cam was able to maneuver as close to the raft as possible, he lost eye contact with Kevin Escoffier. Since then, the skipper of Yes We Cam! has continued his efforts, but has been unable to locate the raft with Kevin on board and has been unable to pick up the AIS signal, the range of which is reduced due to heavy seas.
To strengthen the search, the race management diverted three skippers racing in the same group-Boris Herrmann (SeaExplorer – Yacht de Monaco), Yannick Bestaven (Maître-CoQ), then Sébastien Simon (ARKEA PAPREC) to facilitate the search throughout the area. On site, Jean Le Cam shares information on sea, wind, and current conditions with DC.
At 21h45, Yannick Bestaven reached the area. Boris Herrmann is expected to arrive around 11 p.m. Sébastien Simon is expected a little later. All will observe the protocol established by the race directors in collaboration with Jean Le Cam on site, approaching the area with three hands to the mainsail and the engine running. A precise process of grid-squaring the area has been established and will be carried out by the four IMOCA boats that came to assist.
The PRB ground crew explained that in addition to his AIS Mob, Kevin Escoffier also has another beacon on the life raft. The light will rise tomorrow morning around 4:40 a.m. in the survey area.
The search continues.
This press release was written in collaboration with the Vendée Globe teams and Team PRB

THE CHRONICLE.

Hours of very high tension south of Cape Town, Cape of Good Hope, where a dramatic page of this 2020 Vendée Globe is unfolding. As evening was about to fall in Paris and Les Sables saw the harbor streets already shrouded in fog, a beep, an alarm, decisively changed the evening’s schedule for the Race Director, Jacques Caraës.

It was Kevin Escoffier, 40, from Lorient, who activated the alarm on his onboard systems and abandoned his PRB due to an uncounterable waterway, the causes of which are yet to be ascertained. Escoffier, who was in third place, would have gone up the raft; these are anxious hours for his recovery. Race management initially asked Jean Le Cam to converge on the area, and the Frenchman reportedly spotted the castaway. Le Cam plumbed the engine to intervene but something did not go right. At great speed, three more skippers-Sebastien Simon, Yannick Bestaven, and Boris Herrmann-are moving into the area. Weather conditions are tough, with forecasts of 40 knots of wind and over 5 meters of wave.

At the time of the failure PRB was in third position and along with the group of which Le Cam and Herrmann were also a part was riding the western sector of a depression that was pushing them at great speed toward the latitude of Cape Good Hope. The area of action is in the southern 40s, more than 600 miles southwest of Cape Town. PRB tracking was stopped when the emergency started and is not updated on the chart, AIS is reported to be stopped in the afternoon. PRB is an older generation Imoca, a glorious fleet boat designed for the 2012 Vendée Globe and launched in 2010. Owned by Vincent Riou, she is considered one of the fastest old generation boats, with two Transat Jacques Vabre wins, Kevin Escoffier had refitted her with modern foils for participation in this Vendée Globe.

KEVIN ESCOFFIER

40, from Lorient. Skipper with a significant ocean racing background, in a resume that includes a round-the-world record at the Jules Verne Trophy with the crew of Banque Populaire, and a Volvo Ocean Race victory as part of Team Dongfeng. Kevin Escoffier is in his first participation in the Vendée Globe.

THE ACCOUNT OF GIANCARLO PEDOTE

Prysiam Group’s skipper is positioned further south than the research area. This is his account of the weather situation: “We have been sailing for more than 24 hours now from the flow of this depressions that has its center positioned further southeast than us. We are sailing in an unstable wind, with many gusts, cold and compact, so it is not easy to find the right adjustments, especially with the sea ahead.A bottom that is rising and causing waves that become difficult to manage, because they change cadence, are short and high. The boat tends to plant itself. I hope things will change tonight.I try to rest, do my weather analysis, eat and adjust the boat according to the wind…I am in the routine of tightening this depressionary flow. It has all come together: the depressionary flow, the Big South, the cold, the southeast wind that is very cold, since it comes from the Antarctic–so much all together, so much all to discover together. Good thing there are albatrosses… ”

UPDATE 10 P.M.

Tracking updated to 10 p.m. Italian time, while PRB’s is stopped at 3 p.m.

PRB in orange, Le Cam in white, Bestaven in red and Herrmann in gray.

We tracked the area of operations with the AIS tracker available at www.vesselfinder.com

Kevin Escoffier’s research area. The two in boats at the bottom should be PRB (whose AIS is stuck at a position 9 hours ago) and Jean Le Cam. Further north Herrmann, Simon and Bestaven.

Mauro Giuffrè

TRACKING

NEWS UPDATING

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