French sailor in Transat race hits 'metal object', sinks

French Transat competitor Mathieu Claveau abandoning his yacht mid-Atlantic
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Was it a whale? No, the skipper didn't think so. Was it a runaway container? We all thought they had perforations that allowed them to sink these days. Was it an abandoned vessel? The bad news for cruising sailors is that we shall probably never know, but there ARE still hard objects in a deep ocean that can sink your boat. A French sailor currently taking part in the Transat race has had to abandon his yacht mid-Atlantic when he hit a 'metal object'.

La Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6.50 skipper Mathieu Claveau (405 – Okoume Les chevaux du Beal) is on board the escort boat Edulis, forced to abandon his boat at sea after a collision with an unidentified floating object last night.

The unidentified floating object severely damaged his hull and also caused substantial leaks on board. The water level rose rapidly and forced Mathieu to start the standard procedure for external help request by pressing the red button on his beacon and releasing his sarsat beacon. He has been evacuated off his boat.

A cargo ship was diverted by 45 miles toward the area and the escort boat Edulis was diverted by the Race Organizers. In agreement with the MRCC, which oversaw the operation, the cargo was asked to be on the weather-beam and athwart the sea to protect Mathieu during his evacuation. Mathieu had boarded his life raft and two Edulis's crew members caught him and his first aid bag - which he had carefully prepared. Mathieu will remain on board of Edulis until Bahia.

Mathieu' statement - by Iridium: 'I had 10 knots of wind when it happened. I was asleep and I was awakened by a great shock. I had made more sails and then, while I was looking inside the boat, I saw the water gushing under my kitchen board.

'I went down, I plunged in my hand and I felt the wood of the hull that had exploded. I think that I hit a metal object which destroyed my hull. The boat was filled with water in an hour.

'I tried to bail out but I quickly realized that this was not possible and that it was completely useless. I had battery up until half an hour before the arrival of the cargo ship and Edulis in the area.

'I was surprised that everyone was there so quickly. I had everything prepared to stay one or two days without help. All is fine... '

La Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat website

Mathieu Claveau - La Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6.50 2011
© Pierrick Garenne / GPO