by Rich Wilson, Skipper, Great American III

The day before the start of the Vendée Globe I saw Yann Eliès riding on his bike, standing on the pedals, with his young daughter on the seat behind him. Kind and cordial as always, he introduced me to her.

A few days ago, the physicality of this race came home to the fleet in a horrible way when Yann was swept down the foredeck of Generali by a wall of water, fetched up on some piece of equipment, and broke his thighbone. Somehow he crawled back into the cabin and alerted race officials and the race doctor.

Race officials alerted Australian Rescue Services. They immediately detailed a frigate to depart Perth for Yann’s position with a medical team aboard. Race officials also alerted Safran/Marc Guillemot and Roxy/Samantha Davies, both competitors, to divert from the race and to head for Yann’s position. They diverted immediately, as it is the unquestioned tradition of the sea to go to the aid of a mariner in distress.

Marc arrived first, circling Generali, trying to throw water and medicine down the hatch, and talking constantly with his friend Yann by VHF. The race doctor had specifically detailed the purpose of Marc’s proximity to be emotional support.

Two days later, the frigate arrived and within hours had Yann stabilized, off Generali, and onto the frigate where the medical team awaited. All the players worked together, fulfilled their roles, and a good outcome was achieved.