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11/06 - 18h50

Mid Term Report

Early this afternoon (Thursday) about thirty miles off La Coruna Bob Escoffier, the 65 year-old skipper from Saint Malo, was airlifted to safety by the Spanish Navy from his modified Sydney 60ft monohull Guisnel Grouo which was racing in the Rhum class of La Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe.

His boat had been taking in water due to an unknown reason. He was transferred, safe and in good health, to the Spanish base in Vivero. Escoffier was engaged on his fourth race participation and has also completed three successive Transat Jacques Vabre races between 2001 and 2005. He was a late replacement for his daughter Servane who pulled out of the race in early September for medical reasons.

His helicopter evacuation is the third such rescue after those of François Angoulvant who lost the keel of his Class 40 during the first night of racing and that of Pierre Antoine whose Multi50 was struck by lightning. The drop out rate has always been closely monitored on this four yearly passage from Saint-Malo to Guadeloupe. The usual average rate of skippers abanding is around 30 per cent but has been as high as half the fleet in editions such as in 1986 and 2002. So far there have now been 21 abandons with 70 skippers still racing in the five divisions.

Midpoint for Peyron
Loick Peyron can feel satisfied with his work to date on Maxi Solo Banque Populaire VII leading across the theoretical midway point of the race today with a margin hovering still around 170 miles. With 1700 miles to go his delta has held steady at 10 per cent of the distance to the finish. In light, poorly established trade winds today, Peyron should lead Yann Guichard's Spindrift out of the light winds zone and extend away again. On deck it is summer, 25 degrees with gentle breezes with a full moon at night. In the three cornered battle of the Multi70s Sebastien Josse eased clear of Sidney Gavignet again today but Yann Elies struggled in a very light zone, conceding distance to his two rivals and was 140 NM behind Gavignet's Musandam-Oman Sail this evening.
Off Finisterre this evening conditions are forecast to be tough for the ten Rhum class racers and the back markers in Class 40 as a new low pressure sweeps across Biscay. Gusts up to 55kts are predicted with big, bad seas.

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