Upsetting news this morning from French Polynesia
Yachtsman Laurent Bourgnon reported missing after dive
31 minutes ago
(AP) — Leading Swiss yachtsman Laurent Bourgnon was reported missing by authorities in French Polynesia
on Thursday after a diving accident
The Papeete rescue
center in Tahiti
said the 49-year-old Bourgnon, who twice won the prestigious Route
du Rhum trans-Atlantic sailing race
, was diving
on his own. Crew members and passengers of the boat alerted emergency
services Wednesday afternoon when he did not get back on board.
Marie Baville, the cabinet director for the head
of Polynesia's governing council, told The Associated Press that Bourgnon had organized the trip with tourists on his boat, which was anchored in the Toau atoll, about 400 kilometers (250 miles) from Tahiti in the Tuamotu Archipelago when the incident happened.
"This is not a particularly dangerous area," Baville said.
She added that the search for Bourgnon, which involved a helicopter, was called off at night and was set to start again early Thursday morning.
Bourgnon, whose brother Yvan this week completed a sail around the world on a 20-foot boat without on-board accommodation, is one of the most accomplished sailors of his generation.
After a cruise
around the world with his parents in his teenage years, Bourgnon crossed the Atlantic for the first time in 1986, on a small Hobie Cat catamaran
with his friend Fred Giraldi. He won the Solitaire du Figaro in his first attempt two years later.
Bourgnon secured a third-place finish at the Route
du Rhum in 1990 before winning twice in a row in the famed race
between Brittany and the Caribbean
island of Guadeloupe
in 1994 and 1998.
Bourgnon also competed in car rallies, including the Dakar Rally several times in the early 2000s.