Saturday, December 20, 2008

Vendée Globe: Yann Elies successfully rescued

[Source: vendée Globe] Yann Elies, the skipper of Generali who broke his left femur on December 18, has been successfully transferred to the Australian Navy’s HMAS Arunta, an Anzac Class Frigate.

The Arunta reached Generali, around 850 miles south-south-east of Perth this morning, and at around 0940h (GMT) a RIB came alongside Generali. Two personnel were immediately dispatched on board the yacht to assess Yann Elies’ condition, while the Arunta remained around 200 metres upwind of Generali, holding station to provide a lee shelter.

At 1040hrs GMT an emotional Marc Guillemot, skipper of Safran who had been standing by alongside Generali, confirmed on this morning’s live radio broadcast that the transfer of Yann Elies from Generali onto HMAS Arunta has been completed.

The Generali yacht awaiting the arrival of the Australian Navy. 20 Decmeber 2008. Photo copyright Marc Guillemot / Safran / Vendée Globe

Speaking from the scene he said: "Some highly professional work. They prepared Yann for the transfer. Still heavy swell but they carried out manoeuvre perfectly. Yann is now aboard the frigate and has a doctor taking care of him."

"It was like a dream. It didn't seem real. They took care of that magnificently."
On board the Frigate Elies will be assessed by the civilian doctor on board and is expected to be taken to Perth military hospital.

The Australian frigate's RIB then returned to Generali to pick up two crewmembers who were left to secure the boat. The Open 60 was left sailing slowly northwards under a very minimal sail plan, away from the track of the worst of the low pressure systems. The Vendée Globe race directors will continue to monitor her position.

A crew from Team Generali, have left for Australia to go aboard a motor launch which will take them out to the area, and they will sail her back to Southern Australia.

Guillemot, who suffered two broken legs at sea in 1985 when the catamaran Jet Services capsized, said: “The only advice I gave Yann was to remain patient and not behave like I did. In the future he will be back again.”
Guillemot and fellow skipper Sam Davies on Roxy, who had also left the race to head towards Generali and was around 70 miles away at the time of the rescue, will now continue with their race.

Marc Guillemot added: “I said before that when Yann was in safe hands, I would set sail again. The conditions will me allow me to rest. I am tired after all this stress.”

A doctor from the Royal Flying Doctor Service, embarked in the Anzac-Class frigate, has begun administering emergency medical treatment.

The ship’s Commanding Officer, Commander Stephen Bowater said his crew has displayed exceptional professionalism during the two days to reach the French sailor.

“From receiving the order to deploy late on Thursday evening to sailing out of HMAS Stirling in the very early hours of Friday morning, we only had a precious few hours to get the ship operational,” Commander Bowater said.

“This was achieved without compromise to the safety of the crew or the operation of the ship.

“We have proven again that the Navy constantly maintains the ability to respond at short notice to emergency situations.”

CMDR Bowater said Yann Elies is receiving excellent medical care from the RFDS doctor and is resting comfortably.

HMAS Arunta is now returning to port, where the solo Vendee Globe skipper will be transferred to a civilian hospital.



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