Vendée Globe 2008: Capsized!

We, here at Science NetLinks, join everyone involved with the Vendée Globe in breathing a deep sigh of relief at the safe rescue of Skipper Jean Le Cam from his boat, which capsized late yesterday. Skipper Le Cam was below deck when the boat tipped, leaving him trapped inside the boat (but not underwater).

This afternoon Skippers Vincent Riou and Armel Le Cléac’h (as well as an oil tanker that was close by) reached the VM Matériaux, which was lying on its side in the water, as you can see from Skipper Riou’s video above. Skipper Riou called out and could hear Skipper Le Cam shout back — a relief for everyone! Skipper Le Cam worked on getting into his rescue suit (which insulates you against the cold water and helps you stay afloat) and in breaking open the escape hatch in the bottom of the boat, while Skippers Riou and Le Cléac’h came up with a plan: They would take turns circling the boat so they could rescue Skipper Le Cam when he broke through.

When at last he did, Skipper Riou, sailing the PRB, tried to throw him a rope. Three times it missed. Skipper Le Cam clung to the rudder for 15 minutes while Skipper Riou battled the seas to get closer. He succeeded and finally was able to reach his stranded friend with a rope, which he used to tow him to safety. Unfortunately, to get close enough to get the rope to Skipper Le Cam, the PRB came just a bit too close to the capsized boat and was damaged by it. Everyone is safe, though, and Skipper Riou and Skipper Le Cam are aboard the PRB and sailing toward Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.

Congratulations to everyone involved in the successful rescue. We’re so glad you’re all okay. To the rest of the sailors at sea (and especially to Skipper Wilson, who crossed the International Date Line to return to the Western Hemisphere yesterday), please be careful. We’re thinking of you.

Sink It (3-5)
This Science NetLinks lesson is designed to develop students’ understanding of sinking and floating.

Buoyant Boats (3-5)
The purpose of this Science NetLinks lesson is to design and construct a boat that takes into account factors such as buoyancy, the properties of materials, and design constraints.

Grand Designs and Great Failures (6-8)
In this Science NetLinks lesson, the first in a three-part series on ships, student teams develop research and reporting skills as they gather information about a specific type of ship and report it to the class.

What Floats Your Boat? (6-8)
In this Science NetLinks lesson, the second in a three-part series on ships, students use what they have learned about ship design (along with some additional information on the Web about how ships are built) to design and build a small model boat, using limited materials.


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