Wed, Jan 07, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Vendee organizers launch search for troubled sailor

AP , RENNES, FRANCE

French skipper Jean Le Cam prepares his VM Matiaux monohull ahead of the start of the Vendee Globe round-the-world solo sailing race in the western French harbor of Sables-d’Olonne on Nov. 6 last year. Le Cam reported “big problems” on board his boat yesterday, before communications were abruptly cut off, the race management said in Paris. His boat was west of Cape Horn at the time, in high winds.

PHOTO: AFP

Organizers of the Vendee Globe solo round-the-world sailing race sent a rescue ship and plane to waters off Cape Horn yesterday after losing contact with French sailor Jean Le Cam.

Le Cam told his team on the mainland overnight that he was having “big problems,” but communication was then cut off, according to the Vendee Globe race Web site.

The organizers alerted international rescue services, and a cargo ship in the region was sent to the area where Le Cam was when he sent out his distress signal, about 200 nautical miles (370km) west of Cape Horn at 01:40am GMT.

A Chilean rescue plane was to head to the region after sunrise, the Web site said. Two other sailors in the area, Vincent Riou on PRB and Armel Le Cleac’h on Brit Air, were also rerouted to where Le Cam was believed to be.

Le Cam came second in the last Vendee Globe, in 2004, less than seven hours behind Riou after 87 days and 10 hours battling sleep deprivation and rough seas.

This time, 16 of 30 sailors who started the race off France’s Atlantic Coast on Nov. 9 have since abandoned it.

Michel Desjoyeaux leads the race aboard Foncia, some 106 nautical miles ahead of Roland Jourdain on Veolia Environnement.

The Vendee Globe, a single-handed race for men and women without any stopovers, takes the fleet around the three great capes — the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin and Cape Horn — marking the southern tips of Africa, Australia and America.

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