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Injured French sailor rescued by long-range helicopter mission

by Ocean Globe Race 19 Sep 07:47 PDT
The crew of French OGR entrant Triana (66) FR assisted Stéphane Raguenes into the liferaft before being winched onboard the helicopter and flown to Madeira for medical attention © OGR 2023 / Margault Demasles

An injured crew member from the 53ft French Yacht TRIANA, racing around the world in the McIntyre Ocean Globe was successfully rescued yesterday after a dramatic long-range helicopter mission.

The alarm was raised early on the morning of 18th when the sailor's condition deteriorated overnight from injuries sustained the day before.

At 07:20 UTC yesterday, the captain of Triana (66) FR, Jean d'Arthuys, contacted Ocean Globe Race control to request an urgent medivac from the vessel. This followed an incident onboard at 1300 UTC, 17th Sept when crew member Stéphane Raguenes slipped on deck in heavy weather causing a severe laceration on the back of his leg behind the knee. Stéphane was taken below for immediate first aid to stop the blood flow. He was sedated and given morphine under supervision by MSOS 24hr Telemedicine organization. He was conscious, talking and made comfortable by his crew mates.

The captain of the yacht had planned to make for the nearest port, but light winds and a failed engine combined to signal an immediate medical evacuation was the only safe option.

The rescue was carried out by the Portuguese Rescue Coordination Center with support from the Portuguese military and French Griz Nez Rescue Coordination Center. The French yacht Triana was approx 225 miles from the island of Madeira. A fixed-wing aircraft was dispatched, arriving overhead at approximately 15:15 UTC ahead of the helicopter.

The Triana crew launched one of their two eight-man SOLAS life rafts and the casualty was assisted into the raft by three crew Xavier Haize, Titouan Dourmap and Max de Montgolfier. All four were then secured to the stern of Triana by a 12-meter line. Sea state at that time was 2.5mtr sea and 17-20kt winds. Shortly after the helicopter arrived, and at 16:45UTC Stéphane was successfully winched out of the liferaft into the helicopter to continue the long flight back to the island of Madeira and awaiting medical personnel.

At 1830 UTC Portugal MRCC advised that the helicopter with Stéphane onboard had landed safely at Funchal Airport on the island of Madeira and he was being transported to Hospital. He is now being treated for his injuries and recovering well.

"After the accident of our crew member Raguenes yesterday I was worried with weak wind and still 2 days to reach Madeira, so I asked Don McIntyre this morning to launch an evacuation plan. I thank Don, the OGR organization and all the rescue international teams French and Portuguese for the incredible speed and professionalism of the helicopter and aircraft heli treuillage at 4pm today. Raguenes is safe, all the crew is happy and we are now back on track sailing to Cape Town." said Captain Jean d'Arthuys.

The Organisers of the McIntyre Ocean Globe would like to thank all the International Marine Rescue Coordination Centers and personnel who provided support to effect a successful joint rescue operation under very challenging conditions.

The OGR team wish Stéphane Raguenes a speedy recovery.

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