On Tuesday, the CMA CGM vessel Marion Dufresne rescued the French yachtsman Kito de Pavant from his sailboat, which had suffered damage and was taking on water.
De Pavant was competing in the Vendee Globe solo race, a famously challenging competition in which several dozen yachtsmen make a non-stop circumnavigation of the world, without outside assistance.
De Pavant was about 100 nm off the Crozet Islands when his yacht, the Bastide Otio, struck an unknown object and began to flood.
"I hit something hard with the keel. The shock was brutal and the boat stopped dead . . . The keel hangs under the boat," de Pavant told race organizers Vendee Globe by satphone. "The keel box is torn, there is a large leak at this level but it is contained for the moment at the engine bay . . . The situation has stabilized for now."
Vendee Globe said that the Otio was making about 16 knots in heavy weather at the time of impact.
The Dufresne, a supply vessel operated by CMA CGM under charter to the French Southern Lands, was the closest ship to de Pavant's position at about 120 nm away. CMA CGM said that she immediately changed course to meet him.
The Dufresne made VHF contact at about midnight local time, and Kito's Facebook page reported that he was taken safely aboard just after daybreak. In a brief message, Kito said that he could not stay with the sailboat because he could no longer control the flooding.
Images courtesy CMA CGM
He expressed sadness at having to abandon his yacht to the seas after years of preparation for the race, and he wished his competitors the best of luck.
It was De Pavant’s third Vendee Globe. He was forced to exit the race in 2008 when his yacht was dismasted, and again in 2012 following a collision with a trawler.
The Marion Dufresne is both a supply vessel and a research ship, and is based out of La Reunion. On her supply missions, she serves the Crozet and Kerguelen Islands, plus the small outposts on St-Paul and Amsterdam Islands. As a research vessel – her primary role – she sails in support of scientific missions around the world.
The rescue of de Pavant is the Dufresne's second for a participant in the Vendee Globe. In 2008, the Dufresne’s crew rescued race participant Bernard Stamm after he went aground off the Kerguelen Islands.