Translation of a sat phone interview with Lionel Lemonchois by a journalist, Aline Merret, from "Le Télégramme de Brest", published on www.courseaularge.com
Lionel Lemonchois capsized 8 days ago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean during his record attempt on "La Mauricienne"; still on board "Prince de Bretagne", upside down, he is waiting for his team coming on site with a tow boat, from RIo. They should be at his location in about 2 days. Aline Merret has been able to contact him by sat phone.
Can you tell us what happened during the capsize?
I was sailing close hauled, in 16-17 knots of wind, getting lighter. I had full main and solent. I decided to take some rest inside: I hadn't done so for several days... The wind picked up. When I eased the sheets, the sails did not move: the sheets had dried up around the winches... It just boils down to a few seconds delay in the easing out of the sheets. A stupid and unforgiving accident.
Then you had to secure the boat?
I had only one thing in mind. Since there was a residual swell, I was afraid that the mast could damage the boat from underneath. Quickly, I got into the water and cut all I could get to. I freed the rig in order to save the boat. There is nothing left underneath the boat. The mast was not recoverable anyway; it had broken in two pieces during the capsize.
Since then, how do you live this waiting period?
I have ups and downs... I try to keep my mind busy and not think about the time passing by. I fix a few things. If I can, I get on the boat to recover lines and running rigging...whatever I can. There is no water ingress inside. I just have to wipe it up once in a while. It is mainly the heat that is difficult to cope with. I have to close the escape hatch to keep the water out. It quickly becomes unbearable inside.
Have you seen other boats?
Monday, for the first time. I am in an area outside all regular traffic lanes. A small sailing boat from Argentina, coming from Cape Town and going to Rio, stopped by. It was crazy. They were more worried than I was. They could not understand that I wanted to stay on my boat, upside down. They wanted to take me away. I had a really hard time to make them understand that I wanted to stay. Other than that, there is nobody, neither on the water nor in the sky.
When do you think the tow boat will arrive?
Yesterday noon, the boat was 420 miles away. At the speed it is going, it should be here within 2 and ½ or 3 days… At least, I hope so!!
What happens next?
As soon as the team is here, we will put the boat back up. We will fill up one of the floats with water and pull on the opposite float. After that, we empty the flooded ama. It has been done before. It should be OK. The tow boat is coming from Rio, so that’s where we are going back, with the multihull in tow. It is the closest large harbor to set up a shipment of the trimaran, back to Europe.