Veteran yachtsman Oliver de Kersauson, at the helm of the trimaran Geronimo, said the three-hulled boat was hit by strange vibrations on Sunday, so he sent a crew member below deck to try to identify what was wrong. "Suddenly he saw something moving," de Kersauson said. "It was tentacles.
"The squid was pulling really hard, so we put the boat about and when we came to a stop the tentacles let go. We saw it behind the boat, and it was enormous. I have been sailing for 40 years, and I have never seen the like," he said.
Crew member Didier Ragault, who spotted the creature through a port-hole said "the tentacles were as thick as my arm wearing an oil-skin, and I immediately thought of the damage it could do.
"When we saw it behind the boat it must have been seven, eight or nine meters long (ca. 26 feet)," he said.
The giant squid, Architeuthis dux, is the world's largest invertebrate. Although historical records say the animal can reach 18 meters (60 feet) in length and weigh a ton, giant squid expert Steve O'Shea says the biggest squid in the 70 he's seen so far was 40 feet long and weighed about 660 pounds.
The giant squid is also highly elusive, living in very deep water. Only about 250 sightings have been officially recorded most of them of dead animals on beaches.
The creature used to feature in numerous maritime stories and legends about attacks on ships, notably in Verne's own 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.
That's exactly why O'Shea thinks the sailors are having a little fun with the media.
"I am afraid I simply do not believe this story," O'Shea told Discovery News. "The animal resides at great depth. Something latched on to their boat, or got lodged against the rudder perhaps."
O'Shea said: "Whatever it was it was NOT a live giant squid."