Drama In The Golden Globe Race As Storm Hits The South Indian Ocean

Golden Globe Yacht Race MapBy derivative work: Flappiefh [CC BY-SA 3.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

On day 85 of the Golden Globe Yacht Race, two of the sailors are being rescued after the devastating effects of a vicious storm mid-way across the South Indian Ocean. The 70 knot winds and 14m seas have capsized, dismasted and seriously damaged those sailors unlucky enough to be caught in the storm’s path.

India’s Abhilash Tomy on his yacht Thuriya sent dramatic message to Race HQ on 21st September saying “Rolled, Dismasted, Severe Back Injury, Cannot Get Up”. Almost incapacitated in his bunk, he was eventually able to activate his EPIRB but confirmed that although he could not walk, he was safe inside his boat for the time being. This prompted the Australian rescue authorities to lead a multinational rescue mission to his position some 1,900 miles SW of Perth, Australia. Three spotter planes were dispatched to fly over the area, as was an Anzac class frigate HMAS Ballerat from Fremantle and the Indian navy diverted a frigate and a tanker from exercises off South Africa to assist. On day 4 of the rescue the French Fisheries patrol vessel Osiris located the yacht and successfully transferred Tomy to the ship which took him to the hospital on Amstredam Island from where he would be transferred to the Indian Navy Frigate INS Satpura which would take him back to India. He was conscious and talking when he left his yacht and after some time recuperating in the hospital he was able to stand and eat.

Meanwhile fellow skipper Gregor McGuckin’s yacht Hanley Energy Endurance was also dismasted in the same storm. He was able to set up a jury rig and although not in distress, he requested a controlled evacuation from his yacht. With his fuel contaminated when the yacht capsized and the self-steering smashed, the risk of sailing 1,900 miles across the Southern Ocean to Western Australia, was too much. So making 2.2 knots he limped towards Thuriya’s position where Osiris would take him on board as well. McGuckin, who is in good health, would then proceed to Fremantle on HMAS Ballerat.

Now only eight of the original sixteen skippers continue in the Golden Globe Race, with French leader Jean-Luc Van Den Heede on his Rustler 36 Matmut, having passed the Cape Leeuwin longitude. Second is Mark Slats, over 1,000 nm behind the leader and in third place so far is Uku Randma with 2,000 separating him from the leader. British skipper Suzie Goodall is in 4th place, closely followed by Tapio Lehtinen and Istvan Kopar.

Kopar, on his yacht Puffin got into a drama of his own on day 88 when he was asked by Race HQ to assist the solo non-stop sailor Kjell Litwin on his yacht Seline . Litwin left Falmouth on the 13th June and had been rafted up with the GGR fleet for the Suhaili 50 Falmouth Parade of Sail, but had unexpectedly lost all water on board. As Puffin was the closest vessel Kopar agreed to throw a rope to Seline with a 20 ltre water container attached as Puffin sailed past.

It is heartening, in this selfish world of cut and thrust, that yachtsmen in a serious world class race, will put their dreams on hold, to go to the aid of a fellow human being.

Watch this space for more news and dramas in the Golden Globe Race.

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