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Anatomy Of A Capsize….

November 11, 2005

Well, the TJV continues to be a boat-wrecking machine. Latest victim: race leading Formula 60 tri Groupama, which sent Franck Cammas and Franck Proffit for an unwelcome swim after they had completed a pitstop in Madeira to fix a rudder. The pitchpole put Proffit into the hospital with damaged ribs and god knows what else. How did it happen? Here’s Cammas:

“We’d left Porto Santo with one reef in the mainsail and Solent headsail, not going faster than was necessary. There was a 30 knot breeze and we were making between 22 – 30 knots boat speed. Everything was fine on board, the sea was manageable and we were catching Géant without pushing it. There was absolutely no warning, the bows weren’t planting in the waves at all. Franck Proffit was at the helm and I was inside the cockpit…Suddenly the central rudder disconnected, the boat luffed on one float and Franck was fighting to steer the boat back on course but at the same time a wave bigger than the others lifted the trimaran up from behind and made the bows dig into the water. The floats also sunk into the waves and we pitchpoled end over end. In fact, it was the combination of the luff and the wave which caused the boat to pitchpole and at these speeds everything happens very quickly.

Franck was thrown out of his helming position and I had the time to get out. He fell onto the forward beam and I got out underwater through the escape hatch in the rear. With the boat upside down, I couldn’t see Franck, I was shouting but got no response. I stripped off and dove off from the other side of the boat and I saw him: his back and sides were in pain. As the boat was sitting rather low in the water, the rear hatch was under the water line so we got into the cockpit by the porthole in the central hull. Fanck Proffit was in great pain all down his left side. He had real problems getting inside the cockpit. I set off the Argos beacon, contacted Stéphane Guilbaud (Project Manager) and set off the Sarsat beacon. The helicopter arrived around 2300hrs and airlifted us both off as it wasn’t sensible for me to stay on board alone and I wanted to be with Franck to accompany him to hospital. He’s had accidents like this often and the first diagnosis was that he had water in the lungs. He’s still in hospital this morning to undergo more tests…”

So, if you hadn’t already figured it out, racing tris across the Atlantic in November is an extremely dangerous business. These guys are as tough as they come, but here’s wishing Proffit–a great guy–a speedy recovery…

“Err, Franck, do you happen to be wearing your dry suit…?”

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