On perhaps one of the most dramatic nights in recent Vendée Globe history, Kevin Escoffier sat in a life raft with little to do but wait. His IMOCA 60, PRB, had broken up and sank after slamming into a wave south of the Cape of Good Hope. Escoffier managed a final transmission "I need assistance. I’m sinking. This is not a joke. MAYDAY" before the electronics went offline.
Beloved French skipper Jean le Cam and three other competitors diverted their courses to join the search for Escoffier. Ultimately, Le Cam spotted the life raft, lost it, found it again, and chose to attempt a rescue in suboptimal conditions out of concern that he'd lose sight of Escoffier again in the high seas. It was a success, and Escoffier was safely evacuated from Le Cam's boat several days later.
The experience apparently did not deter Escoffier, as he plans to get back into the IMOCA 60 circuit as soon as possible. Yesterday marked a major step in his campaign as he launched the IMOCA 60, Holcim-PRB. The boat, which is a 2020 Guillaume Verdier design, has been modified for Escoffier's purposes, with cockpit, bow and foil updates.