A video taken from on-board cameras finally solves the mystery around the wreck of Kito the Pavant at the last Vendée Globe. But let’s go in order.
The French sailor was sailing along in the Indian Ocean in early December 2016, a month after the start of the Vendée Globe round-the world non-stop solo race. He was sailing at 17 knots when his Imoca 60 Bastide Otio violently struck something. The object was simply classified as an Objet Flottant Non Identifié, – unidentified floating object – abbreviated as Ofni, the nautical version of what French people usually call Ovni, Object Volant Non Identifié (unidentified floating object), that is what the rest of the world defines as Ufo.
The violent collision between the Imoca 60 and the Ofni occurred 120 miles north of Crozet Island and completely destroyed the keel and part of the hull around it. Bastide Otio was not capable of staying afloat. So, the French skipper was forced to radio for help and abandon his boat.
Fortunately, the Marion Dufresne 2, a merchant ship supplying the Austral and Antarctic lands of the French overseas territories, was sailing in the area and picked up the sailor.
“I was lucky with my bad luck” – de Pavant said – “the Marion Dufresne 2 was in the area and that only happens four times a year” .
The accident occurred last December 6th but it wasn’t until the end of February that video of the collision was discovered on the hard drive of the boat’s computer and solved the mistery of what sank the Kito’s Imoca.
The video, revealed to the public for the first time some days ago, shows the violent collision from two different angles: interiors and cockpit. It’s precisely this second angle which shows the sailor emerging on deck to see what has struck the boat. However, he doesn’t manage to see the responsible: a sperm whale ( a cachalot for the French) which disappears into the boat’s wake (maybe very battered after the collision against a 10-ton boat sailing at 9 m/s).
“Thanks to the magic of computing” – explained Kito de Pavant, “I’m happy to know what happened even if that doesn’t change much to the unhappy story I experienced”