Escoffier, 40, said he was forced to abandon his boat after a “double-decker” wave on the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, on Monday.
“I put my head in the cockpit. The wave was about to happen. I had time to send a message once before the wave was electrified. It was crazy.”
The organizers responded by hiding Le Cam on a rescue mission, with the Frenchman the closest rival.
The 61-year-old initially made eye and voice contact with his compatriots, but it took a lot of effort to successfully rescue Escoffier early Tuesday, amid strong winds and waves.
“Halfway through when I was in the boat I saw an electric current, but in reality it was a reflection that made waves.
“But the closer I get to the light, the more I see it. It’s amazing because you turn from despair into unrealistic moments right away.”
Le Cam himself assisted in the race in 2009 after spending 16 hours sailing his boat, and Escoffier said he was not intimidated as soon as he saw his rival in the distance.
“As soon as I saw China, I was sure I would survive,” he said.
Organizers have stepped up operations by sending three more contestants to the rescue, but all sent are able to return to the race and lost hours will be deducted from their final hours.
“It was not easy to pick Kevin up at midnight. Jean was an experienced sailor and he followed our advice to the letter.
“We have a lot of strangers, very different goals. We have to be positive all the time and believe in things. We are lucky, luck is on our side.”
Dubbed “Everest of the seas,” the Vendee Globe kicks off on Les Sables d’Olonne on November 8th.