French skipper Kevin Escoffier abandoned his PRB yacht during the Vendee Globe on November 30 and was in a life raft awaiting veteran rival skipper Jean Le Cam to pick him up.
Escoffier is in swells of 5m in the Cape of Good Hope in the Atlantic, with water temperatures at just 10 degrees Celsius.
“Jean Le Cam has arrived in the area and has seen Kevin in his life raft,” the Vendee Globe race website reported at 1617 GMT.
“He [Le Cam] is under engine preparing to recover Escoffier.”
Two more distant skippers also joined the race to rescue Escoffier with Germany’s Boris Herrmann and Frenchman Yannick Bestaven also heading to the zone using their motors.
Le Cam and all competitors involved in the operation will be able to continue the race after any recovery, with the time taken in their detour knocked off in the round-the-world endurance test.
The plan is for one of them to pick him up then pass the stricken sailor to an official rescue craft.
The 61-year-old Le Cam was himself rescued after taking refuge on his upturned boat in the same waters in 2009.
Three weeks into the gruelling yacht race, Escoffier, who was running third 550 nautical miles southwest of Cape Town, reported that he was taking on water and sent out an SOS.
“He [Escoffier] managed to send a message to his shore team, explaining that he had an ingress of water into his boat,” said the organisers.
Cape Town coastguards then contacted his nearest pursuer to proceed to the zone to try and pick him up.
While Le Cam is on an old style yacht the 40-year-old Escoffier was on a new style foiler, a ‘flying boat’ which raises out of the water on a foil in high winds.
The foilers have featured strongly on the list of craft having serious maintenance issues with Welsh skipper Alex Thomson already out of the race.