September 27, 2021

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Fastnet 1979: The day a Bordeaux resident rescues seven English sailors from the waves

In 1979, Alain Catherino took part in Fastnet, a popular sailing race for its difficulty. Trapped in a storm, he would save seven English sailors. The gesture that makes him the first “best sailor of the year”.

FastNet launches this Monday, August 9th, with a sailing around the British Isles. Forty-two years ago, on August 11, 1979, the Fastnet Skippers departed. Among them is Bordeaux sailor Alain Catherino Lorelli. He saves seven sailors and becomes a hero.

Seven-hour storm

The Bordeaux sailor will be caught with 302 boats in the storm. The channel and the waves of the Celtic Ocean are unleashed, with strong winds blowing.

“We had six or seven hours. The boat went to bed four times. We had no sail.”, Recalled Alain Catherine.

Quickly, danger lights appear on the horizon: the skippers are in danger, and their boats are damaged. Laurel later withdrew from the race to help one of them.

Find the report of Gu Guillo Decaix and Talian Elobo

Fastnet 79: The day a Bordeaux resident rescues seven British skippers



© France 3 Aquitaine

Rescue of four sailors

This is Griffin, an English boat with four skippers. “As we passed them, someone snuck in. It’s crazy. Alain tells Catherine. We lowered the bar and started the machine and we headed towards them. We liked an hour, an hour and a half. “

Successful operation for the crew: The sailors are safe and well at Laurel. Others do not get this opportunity. During this worst race in history, eighteen sailors were killed and twenty-three boats were sunk.

The 11-meter sailing boat is now anchored in Bordeaux.

© D. Elobo / France 3 Aquitaine

Together again

Forty-two years later, Alain Catherine is a sensible hero. Despite being named England’s best sailor of the year for saving a total of seven skippers, the man wants to cover his record.

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At 76, the Bordeaux sailor never left the sea: he took part in several fastnets surrounded by his two daughters. He must soon restart his laurel, now wisely established in a sea in Bordeaux.