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Shattered French yachtie's next move after violent collision off NZ coast: 'I need sleep, I need to eat'

When Bluff Coastguard arrived to rescue a French sailer floundering off the New Zealand coast on his yacht after a violent collision last night, things appeared much worse than they expected.

That's what Bluff Coastguard's Stuart McLachlan told 1 NEWS, saying the emergency pumps to offload water on Thomas Ruyant's yacht were dying out when they got there.

Thomas Ruyant is safely in Bluff after his yacht collided violently with an unidentified object in the sea, about 60km off the coast of Fiordland last night. Source: 1 NEWS

In fact, one had died. The other emergency pump was on its last legs, Mr McLachlan said.

"We had water-tight bulkheads and the front section was full of water... it was just a matter of bailing the water out," he said.

Experienced French yachtie Ruyant spent a long night off the coast of Fiordland after his yacht collided violently with an object in the sea last night.

A knackered Ruyant told 1 NEWS he simply need rest after his harrowing experience.

"I need a shower, I need to eat, I need a sleep, I need to talk to my family," he said.

"I don't know if I'm happy because I've had a few difficult days... my collision with the UFO was very violent, and I'm very happy to save my boat."

The critically damaged yacht, Le Souffle du Nord pour le Projet Imagine, is set to sail into Bluff this morning. Source: 1 NEWS

Th collision caused his boat to fall apart 60km off the coast of Fiordland.

He was racing in the Vendee Globe yesterday when he thought he had hit a shipping container in the ocean, causing the hull to open and frame to start coming apart.

'Long night'

Yesterday, just before 8pm, Coastguard Bluff set out to try to rescue the "critically damaged" yacht "Le Souffle du Nord pour le Projet Imagine".

The coastguard reached the yacht at 10.30pm yesterday, about 40 nautical miles from Bluff.

Coastguard New Zealand said the boat could not be towed back to shore. So, the coastguard shadowed the yacht back on its "three to four knot" journey to Bluff.

"It's been a long night for the yachtie... the coastguard skipper has reported conditions have been favourable and the solo-sailor is experienced, which has made the journey back to shore easier."

Mr Ruyant yesterday said in a video, posted on the Yachting World website, that the shock was exceptionally violent.

"It gives me the shivers just thinking about it. I was at 17 to 18 knots and came to a sudden stand-still after hitting what was probably a container.

"The whole of the forward section exploded and folded up. Luckily the boat was not dismasted. It was really very violent.

"I was sleeping on my beanbag and fortunately I had my head down in that, as I ended up hitting the mast bulkhead.

"I found things that were stowed in the stern right up against the forward bulkhead. They got thrown 10m forward."