This evening on French TV, along with countless other followers of the Vendée Globe around-the-world yacht race, I was overjoyed to see an Australian warship from Fremantle, the HMAS Arunta, in the Indian Ocean down near Antarctica, moving towards the yacht of the Breton skipper Yann Eliès, who broke his leg on Thursday.
Click the image to see a short video taken by another skipper, Marc Guillemot, who had spent the last 48 hours hovering alongside the yacht of his stricken friend, but unable to assist him physically. As a privileged spectator of the rescue operations, Marc Guillemot was thrilled to receive a Xmas gift from the Australian marines in their dinghy: bread, fruit and a bottle of wine! Overcome with emotion, Guillemot explained that dozens of dolphins surrounded the yachts at the instant the Australian navy dinghy arrived on the scene. He added that, although he's not in any way superstitious, he looked upon the gathering of these dolphins as an extraordinary happening.
After the rapid and expertly-executed intervention of the Australian vessel and her crew of a hundred marines, the French prime minister François Fillon sent an appreciative message to his Australian counterpart, Kevin Rudd.
This is a photo of the injured skipper, Yann Eliès, in the hands of his Australian rescuers:
Here he is in the dinghy, just before boarding the Australian frigate:
Yann Eliès comes from a Breton city, Saint-Brieuc, which I happen to know quite well. Christine grew up there, and our son was born there.