At 44, Fabrice Amedeo experienced a traumatic Route du Rhum. His ship sank after catching fire and the skipper, a former journalist from the Figaro, had to use his lifeboat to get out. He confides in Europe 1. On the phone, the voice is calm. Ten days after the accident, Fabrice Amedeo begins to rebuild. “I was going on this Route du Rhum to get a good result. When the accident happened, I was 15th out of 37 Imoca. It was going pretty well.” And then the accident happened.
“The impression of putting my brain at 200% of its potential to save my life”
“I really felt like I was unplugging my emotions and putting my brain to 200% of its potential to save my life. Since then I haven’t felt like I’ve come down too low, the emotions haven’t really come back,” he explains. “I got back to work directly after my return to build the sequel, because I don’t want to give up, I want to be at the start of the next Vendée Globe”, says the skipper.
“It takes a lot of work to bounce back, supported by a family of exceptional partners.” Fabrice Amedeo continues: “I haven’t had time to give myself a lot of time for myself yet and so I’m doing pretty well.”
The circumstances of the accident
For Europe 1, he returns to the circumstances of the accident. “I had a 900-litre waterway. It’s a ballast, these large counterweight water tanks, which opened up because the sea was strong and there was undoubtedly a fragility in that place. So, I found myself with 900 liters of water at the bottom of the boat and it turns out that we are on prototype sailboats. On our Imocas, we all have the same batteries”, explains t -he.
These are used for the autopilot and electronic instruments. At Nexans – Art & Fenêtres, they are also used to power water pollution sensors.
The native of Pays-de-la-Loire continues his explanation on the batteries. “We put them all at the bottom of the boat, at the back, for reasons of center of gravity. However, these batteries don’t mix well with seawater. I’ll give you a shortcut, but one thing leading to another, well that I completely dried the boat, the batteries took on a little water and that caused a fire.”
“Amidst the flames at the back of the boat”
The fire quickly spread to the boat. “The boats are made of carbon and burn very quickly. I had a few seconds to react, that is to say between the moment when I tell myself that there really is a fire on board and the moment when I tell myself that I have to evacuate the boat, it is less than a minute and I am in the middle of the flames at the back of the boat.
Fabrice Amedeo joins his life raft not without adventure. In particular, he had to cut himself the cable connecting his canoe to the burning sailboat. “The rope is supposed to break and there it didn’t break. We really had to urgently find the raft’s knife to cut the rope. The raft was being pulled by the boat, filling with water, and the waves pushing him towards the burning boat. It was a very critical situation. But once that situation was dealt with, I really felt like I felt safe on my life raft.”
“I’m fighting to be at the start of the next Vendée Globe”
Fabrice Amedeo continues: “It may seem quite paradoxical because there were still three or four meters of waves and 30 knots of wind. But I left hell with this boat on fire and when I found myself in my ‘survival’, there was no more flapping sail, there was no more noise, there was nothing. I was just level with the water, I felt good and I think that It helps me today in my desire to bounce back. I had an accident. It could have happened to many other Imoca skippers, because we all have the same philosophy of performance.”
The skipper, “without personal fortune”, who had exposed himself financially to acquire his Imoca, adds: “The ocean was rather protective when I found myself really in difficulty and suddenly, I do not think that the he ocean sent me a red card and that I have to stop. On the contrary, this accident is a barrier that I want to overcome. I want to do everything. Today, I fight like a lion to be at the start of the next Vendée Globe.”