Two years later, Autissier entered the Around Alone for the third time. She was leading the race in its third leg when—halfway between New Zealand and Cape Horn—a huge wave hit PRB and caused its autopilot to malfunction. The boat capsized. She had only enough time to slam the waterproof hatch behind her to prevent the cabin from flooding. Autissier activated her emergency beacons, but she was far from shipping lanes and out of
the range of the rescue services. Race officials directed one of her competitors, Giovanni Soldini of Italy, to go to her aid. Soldini piloted his boat through fierce conditions for more than twenty hours to reach Autissier's coordinates. "The problem is that these positions aren't precise, and it won't be easy to see Isabelle's boat," Soldini emailed to his Milan-based racing team. "Visibility is always poor, and in any case I'll need some luck."
Two and a half hours later, Soldini saw the upturned hull of Autissier's boat being pummeled by enormous waves. Twice he steered close to PRB and called for her, but there was no sign of Autissier. On his third pass, Soldini threw a hammer at the hull. It struck forcefully. An escape hatch opened, and Autissier crawled out. She had been sleeping.
Weeks after being rescued from the raging, frigid Southern seas for the second time in her larger-than-life career, Isabelle Autissier had this to say about racing around the world alone: "No more.… This has been mycrazy job for 10 years. I had 10 wonderful years doing that, maybe the best years of my life—great adventures, great friends, great feelings. It has been a wonderful story for me. But now it's time to do something else."
Since that time, in 1999, the quiet, modest French-woman has kept a low profile and avoided media coverage. She lives near the coast of France, in the region where she was born and learned, as a child, to sail.