A 100-foot tri-hulled sailboat capsized 30 miles off Southampton’s beaches early Monday morning when it was hit by winds from a strong line of thunderstorms moving off the coast while attempting a record-setting transatlantic voyage.
The boat, the Trimaran IDEC, and its lone sailor, Francis Joyon of France, set sail from Gateway Marina in Brooklyn for Cornwall, England, in an attempt to set the record for the quickest west-to-east voyage, before being upset in the stormy seas just a few hours after departure.
According to an account given by satellite phone from the upside-down hull of his multimillion-dollar specially built craft, Mr. Joyon told the weblog TheDailySail.com that he was sailing through the storm without particular difficulty when he was hit by a very strong squall that seemed to lift the tri-hulled boat right out of the water and flip it on its side.
“I had managed to sail about 90 miles in very irregular and highly unstable wind, shifting in direction and fluctuating between 10 and 30 knots,” Mr. Joyon said Monday. “I went through some very intense squalls, marked by violent gusts, but it was when I thought I was leaving this area that I received a massive gust that catapulted the boat on its side. The wind continued to build very violently, and I felt the boat literally catapulted into the air. Within seconds, I was ‘on the roof.’ I found myself underwater, beneath the nets. I tried to guide myself back to open air. It was night and chaos. Eventually, I made it to one of the floats. I’m not sure how I reached the forward beam, but I was able to climb up onto the platform.”
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, they were notified of the capsizing shortly after 5 a.m. on Monday by a French rescue coordination center that Mr. Joyon had called on his satellite phone. A Coast Guard craft from Shinnecock Station reached the craft a little over an hour later and found Mr. Joyon unhurt. He was able to access the inside of his overturned boat through an escape hatch on the bottom of the hull and was already coordinating a salvage effort via phone.
According to Lieutenant Junior Grade Erin Dixon, Mr. Joyon declined to be brought back to shore, opting to remain with the boat until salvage crews arrived. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Tiger Shark, which had responded to the distress call, remained on the scene until a salvage boat arrived on Tuesday morning.
The craft is being towed to Newport, Rhode Island, for repairs.