At around 10 pm French time, the race management of the Transat Jacques Vabre received a call from Christopher Pratt, co-skipper of the Multi50 Drekan Group, to inform him that they had just turned around.
The two skippers, Eric Defert and Christopher Pratt are safe inside the boat. They triggered the distress beacon. Equipped with their survival suit, they secured the boat for tracking and thought about how to organize the rescue.
The boat is 300 miles from San Miguel Island in the Azores archipelago.
The race director is in contact with the MRCC of the Azores and the CROSS Gris-Nez to set up the rescue.
It was just before 10 pm last night that Eric Defert and Christopher Pratt capsized on their Multi50. Drekan group evolved in the East of the Azores downwind by 25 knots of Northeast with violent grains at 35 knots and a cross sea. The boat was not under autopilot. Eric and Christopher just had time to get into the cockpit before the boat turned around completely. They donned their survival suit and triggered their Cospas Sarsat beacon.
The MRCC Punta Delgada received the distress call at 8:58 pm UTC and warned the race management. Christopher Pratt was able to call Sylvie Viant (race director) on the emergency phone Iridium to tell him that neither he nor Eric were injured.
The boat being 380 miles from the island of Terceira (Azores), no helicopter had the autonomy to go on zone. The MRCC has therefore decided to divert the nearest MRV Beautriton cargo ship, flying the Dutch flag, 30 miles away from the returned trimaran. A Portuguese Navy patrol boat has also been chartered to assist in the search operations.
At 1:34 am, the Bautriton announced to the MRCC that it located the Drekan Group and was able to discuss the VHF with the crew. Given the weather conditions, they decide by mutual agreement to wait until daybreak to proceed with the rescue and to remain in standby near the wreck. It was finally at 9:38 that the Beautriton put a lifeboat in the water and recovered the two sailors safe and sound. The cargo is heading to Georgetown in the United States.
At the request of the MRCC and in accordance with the International Maritime Regulations, Eric Defert extinguished the Sarsat beacon before leaving the shore (its function is locating and rescuing seamen only). So today there is no longer any location of the Drekan Group wreck. We do not know yet if recovery means will be put in place by estimating its drift.
This is obviously a blow for the skipper who had a hard time making ends meet, calling on local solidarity before leaving Le Havre.
Source: Course Aularge