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French sailor rescued by Antarctic cruise ship

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A French lone sailor adrift for days in a life raft after his yacht sank has been rescued by the crew of an Antarctic cruise ship south of Australia. 

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Alain Delord was attempting to sail solo and without assistance around the world when his yacht, Tchouk Tchouk Nougat, was damaged in rough weather off southern Australia's Tasmania island on Friday.

The Frenchman was forced to abandon ship and had been adrift in a life raft on the Southern Ocean since then.

An Antarctic cruise ship carrying 100 passengers was diverted about 1,800 kilometres to his assistance.

On Sunday night local time, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said the Orion managed to find Delord and pluck him to safety. It believed he is being taken to Hobart, Tasmania.

"He is currently receiving medical attention and early indications are that he is healthy," the authority said. "Weather conditions were better than expected and there was plenty of light in the area."

A Fairfax newspaper reporter on board the Orion said Delord had been recovered by an inflatable dinghy. He looked "awake and relatively well" as he boarded the ship by a side door to cheers and whistles from those on board.

The Orion was 11 days into an 18-day passenger cruise of the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic when it was drafted into the rescue. It was the only ship within 100 nautical miles to respond to AMSA's distress call.

AMSA dropped Delord food, water, communications equipment and a safety suit on Saturday and had stayed in regular contact with him up to the rescue.

The experienced yachtsman has been at sea since October last year and was reportedly following the route of the Vendée Globe round-the-world ocean race.

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