By Brian Hancock
The McIntyre Ocean Globe Race is a marathon, not a sprint, and as in any marathon, and I have done quite a few both on and off the water, there is bound to be some damage, both to the boats as well as to the sailors. And so this happened over the weekend. Stéphane Raguenes aboard the Swan 53 Triana slipped and got a nasty gash in his leg, right behind the knee.
Now, when all the sailors who are participating in this edition of the race attended all those security briefings, I am sure that many thought, this is too much it won’t happen to me. But it does happen; it’s inevitable. Skipper Jean d’Arthuys has altered course and is diverting to Madeira. Don McIntyre and his team are in communication with officials on the island on how best to get Stéphane off the boat and into the safety of a hospital. This doesn’t mean that his race is over. It just serves as a lesson to all competitors that racing around the world can be a tricky business. By the way I am not trying to minimise this. Overnight Stéphane continued to lose blood and the matter may become serious if they don’t get to land soon.
The breakaway pack (another marathon analogy) have all passed Madeira and some may have perhaps read my earlier report and stayed out of the islands long wind shadow. Most of the yachts are well into the fabled Portuguese trades, the same winds that propelled the early explorers out of continental Europe and around the world in search of spices. It’s the same wind that these modern day explorers are riding south.
Pen Duick VI has established their dominance on the water but it’s Translated 9 that is leading on handicap. Co-skippers Marco Trombetti and Vittorio Malingri have a bone in their teeth and are holding fast to their second place on the water and first overall in both the IRC Class and first in the Flyer Class.
Ahead looms the beautiful Canary Islands. I know this from experience that you can get a boost like drinking Red Bull straight from the can if you play your cards right. The wind funnels between Santa Cruz and Grand Canarias and those sailors who play their tactics perfect can get a blast of breeze that will propel them down toward the doldrums and beyond.
CODE RED. TRIANA REQUEST IMMEDIATE MEDIVAC of CASUALTY.
Position at 0700 UTC, SEP 18: 34° 33.80 N, 011° 42.57 W. Vessel SOG, COG: 6.4 knots @ 247.16° Weather: Sunny, light conditions, 9-12 knots of northerly winds. 2.5m sea.
Captain of Triana called OGR RACE HQ at 0720 UTC 18 September reporting that the situation of casualty is worsening, including continuing blood loss throughout the night and deteriorating condition in general. Morphine is administered. Boat speed is not as expected, causing delay to the next port. Captain requested IMMEDIATE medivac of casualty. EPIRB has NOT been activated as stable satellite communication has been established with captain and OGR crisis management team by voice and text.
The race GPS satellite tracker has been updated to 15 minute position updates intervals.
Portugal MRCC and Morocco MRCC were advised by OGR Crisis Management Team. Portuguese medics spoke to the Captain of Triana. Morocco was unable to provide a helicopter able to make 210 miles to Triana and back. Portugal MRCC have approved a medivac by military helicopter and flight plans are currently underway.
MSOS 24hr telemedicine team are maintaining communications with Triana with ongoing nursing advice for the casualty. Next of kin are being updated.
UPDATE: A fixed wing aircraft is being despatched from France and will then rendezvous with the Portuguese military helicopter for the over ocean transit 210 miles out to Triana. The plan may be to launch one of the two life rafts astern on a 10m rope and Stéphane will be accompanied into the raft with another two crew. The helicopter will then recover Stéphane from the raft. ETA of the helicopter is 1425 UTC or 1625 French time. The Portugese have in the past used a Portuguese AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin rescue helicopter.
ENTRANT UPDATE – GODSPEED
At 09:30 UTC, another OGR entrant, Godspeed (01) USA, contacted OGR Race Control reporting their boom had developed a six-inch crack on both sides above the vang following a few days of heavy weather. The team has lowered the mainsail and secured the boom. No one got injured and there was no further damage to the rig.
The Skeleton Crew is now diverting to Cascais, where its shore team is hoping to find a quick replacement for a swift turnaround.
Listen in to their call recording on Soundcloud!