One of the most popular foreigners in the IMOCA fleet, Swiss sailor Bernard Stamm continues to find himself cursed with the same bad luck that saw him DSQ from the last Vendee Globe and destroying his bow against a cargo ship in an earlier race. And this time, it nearly killed him.
Stamm and co-skipper Damien Guillou were delivering Stamm’s Open 60 Cheminees Poujoulat – a pre-fab metal chimney manufacturer with a creepy black cat as its logo – home from Brazil after the TJV, running ahead of a not-unusual winter storm with winds to around 50 knots and seas of 30 feet, according to the British Coast Guard (it turned out to be the deepest low recorded in the British Isles since the 1880s). When his JuanK designed boat fell off a wave, the boat literally cracked in half forward of the daggerboard casings, and only by immediately shutting the watertight crash doors did Guillou and Stamm keep the boat afloat long enough to be rescued.
The rescue itself was a super sketchy affair, with two helicopters and a plane attempting to either pull the sailors out of the sea or drop them life rafts – all efforts failed thanks to a lack of light and the huge seas. One aircraft remained on station, guiding a Norwegian cargo ship to the stricken Open 60 and rescuing the sailors as the boat sank underneath them. We’ll probably never know whether it was a design or construction defect that led to this near-fatal accident, but we do know this: After Rambler 100, Artemis Racing, and now Cheminees Poujoulat, Juan K might might be either a woeful designer or just unluckier than Bernard Stamm. And they both might be looking for a new career soon.
Here’s an interview we did with Stamm in happier days, before the last Vendee Globe, and get into the thread for more news and information on the rescue. Photo from Stamm’s earlier Velux 5 Oceans-winning 60, mostly to show you the kitty.