Do they (still) make them like this?

Three-time Vendée Globe veteran Patrice Carpentier remembers the incredible salvage of Fleury Michon X…

One month after the departure of the first Vendée Globe Titouan Lamazou is leading the 13-boat fleet in front of Philippe Poupon. During the night of 27 December 1989 the famous Breton navigator finds he has excellent pace onboard his 60-footer Fleury Michon X, designed by Philippe Briand. He is starting to close the gap on the race leader.

But over the next 10 hours the winds continue to increase relentlessly and the seas build up once again. Located at 47°S 01°W, that is to say approximately 1,200 nautical miles west-southwest of Cape Town and well into the Southern Ocean low pressures, Poupon’s ketch is hit by the first really big squall. But confident in his pace and highly motivated as usual, ‘Philou’ is still doing quite well reaching in the big seas.

Suddenly, however, the brilliant skipper – winner of most of the great solo races – hears a terrific crash and feels his boat heeling over too fast. The boat reaches 90° of heel… but she stays there! Flat on her side, both masts in the water and looking like a giant capsized dinghy. Poupon and Fleury Michon will remain at 90° until Loïck Peyron comes to their rescue on Lada Poch III.


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