Inquiry opened into leading French sailing skipper accused of sexual violence

PARIS – French prosecutors said on Friday that they had opened an inquiry into a leading skipper over accusations of sexual assault during the round-the-world Ocean Race in May.

Kevin Escoffier, 43, dramatically quit the event while helming the Swiss boat Holcim-PRB, who had led after each of the first four legs of the gruelling competition.

He was later accused of sexual assault by a female crew member during a stop in Newport, Rhode Island on the east coast of the United States on May 15.

In a statement, the Paris prosecutor’s office confirmed that an inquiry had begun after the French Sailing Federation passed on allegations of “a sexual assault or inappropriate behaviour”.

Escoffier’s lawyer declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

The yachtsman hit international headlines in 2021 when he was dramatically rescued in the south Atlantic by a rival while competing in the Vendee Globe race.

He spent 11 hours clinging to his lifeboat after his boat dramatically split in two.

He won the Ocean Race in 2017-18 and also the Transat Jacques-Vabre in 2005. AFP

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