Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fastnet Rock yacht race drama

This breaking news was published yesterday in

Wednesday, June 17, 2009 - 12:43 PM

A French father and son sailing team were rescued today after a freak wave knocked them overboard as they raced to the notorious Fastnet rock.

The pair, Laurent Bonniot and his son Guillaume, had been competing in a fleet of 75 yachts from Brittany when the accident happened seven miles from Baltimore, Co Cork.

Lifeboats crews who reached the stricken vessel just before 3am praised the sailors for taking safety precautions which helped them clamber back on board after the wave hit.

The father, aged 51, and son, aged 31, will stay in Baltimore until their boat is repaired.

“We wish to thank the lifeboat crew for their assistance. They were very quick and professional. We felt very supported and of course there was great chat between us,” Guillaume said.

The RNLI said the fleet was sailing through severe conditions with southerly winds gusting to 25 knots.

The pair, who were wearing safety harnesses, were left stranded when the large wave hit knocked them off the 20ft Mini Transat yacht, smashed the mast and threw the yacht into darkness.

Seventy-five boats were taking part in the race across the Celtic Sea from Douarnenez to Fastnet and back which began on Sunday.

Baltimore RNLI Coxswain Keiron Cotter praised the safety precautions the experienced sailors had taken.

“When we received the call in the early hours this morning we were very anxious to get to the yacht as quickly as possible,” the crewman said.

“The men were experienced sailors and had taken excellent safety precautions including the wearing of harnesses.

“This meant that when they were washed off their yacht they were able to re-board it quickly. Sadly they were unable to complete the race but they have been receiving some Baltimore hospitality before they head home.”

While the father/son team missed the chance to complete the race, the very good news is that they were both safely rescued at 3 am in the middle of the night. It is heartening to see that the rescued thank the life boat crew, while the rescuer praised the sailors for taking "excellent safety precautions including the wearing of harnesses." It is the best kind of combination that makes this story one with a happy ending. Had they completed the race they may have a picture like this:

as given in this article about the similar race, I believe, in 2004. The article includes this interesting tidbit:
Pete and I crossed the finish line at 03.00, after five days eleven hours and fifty minutes and in 68TH place……… exhausted! The quay was buzzing though and we were soon sitting down to the biggest bowl of paella I have ever seen and a bottle of the local red. I had hoped to have a good night’s sleep prior to coming home but in fact had to get up at 02.30 to make sure that Eddie Higgs (GBR423 GUSTO) and I caught the St.Malo – Weymouth ferry. I realised afterwards that I had travelled further non-stop during the race than I have ever travelled non-stop in a car before, and all at six miles per hour!
You would not think that a 68th finisher could be so genuinely happy, may be that's something only a real sailor can understand. Yes, to complete something just to show that we were a part of it there would be something to be happy and proud about. The world will be a much better place if everyone can adapt to this kind of attitude. At any rate let's all be happy for the French father and son team for being good sailors, alive and well, after encountered a freaque wave in the middle of the night.

1 comment:

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I can't imagine the relief and happinnes that family of this two brave sailors feeled when they resived this news, thanks God they are totaly unharmed.