SAILING Fabrice Amedeo experienced an explosion and a fire on his Imoca on Monday. Rescued by a freighter while heading for Cascais (Portugal), the skipper entrusted his sinking to “Ouest France”
Fabrice Amedeo's Imoca, here last June at the start of the Arctic Vendée in Les Sables d'Olonne. — Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS/AFP
Fabrice Amedeo is the incredible survivor of the day on the Route du Rhum. Victim of a shipwreck on Monday afternoon, while he was heading for Cascais (Portugal) on his Imoca, the 44-year-old skipper was killed. rescued by a freighter, after having had to abandon his boat. Now out of danger, in this freighter which will drop him off this Tuesday morning in the Açores, he has delivered; a poignant testimony to West France.
“I realized on Sunday morning that my ballast had exploded. on a wave and that I had several hundred liters of water in the boat, he says. I stopped to be safe and I started to empty everything. À At that point, the batteries hit by the water failed and I had a complete blackout at my battery. edge. I had no more electricity: no more autopilot, no more computer, no more electronics. I have decided, in consultation with my team, to proceed cautiously towards Cascais.”
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”“I can”t even open my eyes”
Sunday afternoon, Fabrice Amedeo notices “a big smoke in the air. on board the ship.” After a blow from the fire extinguisher, he puts on his survival suit and alerts the race direction, so that a competitor in Imoca can divert to assist him if necessary. As the smoke finally stopped, the skipper resumed his journey to Cascais. A new smoke appears Monday noon at board, and this is followed by an explosion.
I blow the extinguisher but nothing helps. The smoke is not white like the day before but yellow. The cockpit warps and yellows. Seawater spray sounds like the sound of water hitting a saucepan. I understand that I will have to evacuate. At the moment when I'm hanging up with my team, I'm down. the back of the boat ready to go. trigger my survival. A torrent of flames comes out of the cabin. I am in the middle of the flames. I can't even open my eyes. I manage to push the life raft to the water and to skip. Normally the end that holds the survival to the boat is supposed to let go. He doesn”t let go.”
“Amazingly serene” on his raft
The key moment for Fabrice Amedeo is there: he has to get on his life raft as soon as possible. “I think to myself, 'if you want to live, you have a few seconds to find the knife and cut this piece off.' I finally find it and I cut. My raft is drifting downwind of the Imoca, which is in flames. It will take 30 minutes to complete. sink. I spoke to him. and I thanked him. We were to travel around the world together in two years… ”
The skipper’s rescue is still far from being effective, especially since his satellite phone no longer works due to the water received. “I say to myself: “nobody knows that the boat has sunk and that you are in your raft, if you cut the beacon of your Imoca that you may have taken and you trigger the one of the raft, they will have the info”. That’s what I do.” He'll be spending almost four hours in that raft on Monday afternoon, making a Mayday call every 30 minutes and being “surprisingly serene”.
“Death did not want me”
It doesn't last, since he doesn't see how he's going to go up. edge “of”such a juggernaut” namely a freighter located at 6 miles from it. “I am in constant contact with the captain who does not see me: the sea is rough, he has the sun in his eyes and I am a tiny orange dot, says Fabrice Amedeo. I hit two distress rockets, he tries a first approach which fails. It’s very impressive to be in my inflatable raft at the beach. a few meters from this steel giant. As it passes, the sea chops, the raft fills abundantly with water.” The skipper ends up grabbing hold of a rope thrown by the freighter’s crew.
“It's all down to the wire. There is a thick line between success and failure, survival and tragedy. My Imoca Nexans-Art et Fenêtres sank; in flames before my eyes and all my dreams were swallowed up with it. It’s once in a while aboard the freighter that fear and adrenaline came. My legs were shaking. It’s crazy this ability! animal that has the Man to manage a survival situation. And then ça falls again. Death did not want me today or rather life did not want me to leave it. I am devastated but the happiest of men because tonight my wife and my daughters are not going to bed crying.” Welcomed as a hero by the twenty crew members of the freighter, he does not imagine himself changing his life: “This adventure in no way alters my passion for my profession and for the ocean, I’ll bounce back.