French around-the-world sailor, Stéphane Le Diraison was handed a vital lifeline of fuel from a BRS cargo ship after losing his mast off the Australian coast.
Stéphane was competing in the Vendée Globe Non-Stop Solo Around The World Race when his yacht was dismasted deep in the Indian Ocean on December 18th.
The skipper had been moving for 9 days under jury rig to try to reach Australia. With his improvised sail, he was dependent on the wind which was pushing him away from the coast back to where he came from.
As Stéphane was in no mortal danger, neither the Vendée Globe Race Board nor the Australian authorities could request the deviation of a freighter to help him. After scanning all the possibilities on the Marine Traffic site, on Christmas morning he contacted his team on-shore to see if any contact could be made with the BRS cargo ship he had spotted and which, by a slight diversion, could cross his path.
Thanks to the collaboration of the BRS office in Athens, contact was rapidly made with the ship-owner's company who, on Christmas day, immediately mobilized and instructed their teams and Captain J Neofotistos to deviate and join Stéphane to help him.
On reaching Stéphane it took two hours for the transfer of the gasoil cans to be successfully conducted which was achieved by tying the cans together and then retrieved by Stéphane with his gaff.
In total, while 100 litres were originally requested, the Captain insisted on supplying with 200 litres! As Stéphane told the crew of the ship:
"I really, really appreciate for me, it's a very nice Christmas present you offer me."
Watch the video below to see Stéphane LIVE during the operation
All of this was made all the more poignant given that the ship's Owner had sadly passed away the day before this operation and it was his son who agreed to help with this rescue, he is quoted as saying:
"Let it be a symbolic gesture in memory of a man and of what he represented. This man liked to say that he was 'not a ship-owner but a Captain'."
The diversion and subsequent aid was also offered without charge by the company.
Stéphane was in 10th position in the gruelling race, which started in France on November 6th, before being forced to abandon. Stéphane finally brought his 60-foot racer Imoca into Melbourne on Friday December 30th .
A wonderful exemple of the solidariry and humanity shared among seafareres!
Source: Stéphane Le Diraison