A British man was rescued from the Pacific Ocean in the early hours of this morning after falling overboard during the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. Derry~Londonderry~Doire crew member, Andrew Taylor (46) from London went over the side at 00.43 BST last night in rough weather and was sighted again at 01.55 BST before being recovered at approx. 02.13 BST this morning (13.13 local time, 30 March).
The incident happened in rough weather with 35 knots of wind and clear visibility, during a sail change in daylight on day 14 of Race 10 in the 16 stage Clipper Race which is currently heading for San Francisco, USA from Qingdao, China.
The yacht’s professional Skipper Sean McCarter (32) from Derry Londonderry reported that he was working with Andrew on a sail change near the bow when he went over the side. Sean immediately went back to the helm, stopped the yacht and initiated the MOB (man overboard) procedure.
Race Director Justin Taylor explained: “In these conditions a man overboard is swept away from the boat very quickly and visual contact can be lost in the swell. We have a well-rehearsed procedure to mark the position, stop racing and engaged the engine to search for and recover the crew member as quickly as possible.
“An hour and a half is a very long time to be in the water in these conditions but a combination of his sea survival training and seven months at sea as well as wearing a life jacket and dry suit will have contributed enormously to his survival.”
Nearly 4,000 people have taken part in the event which includes an extensive pre-race training programme and the organisers are fully committed to safety and maintaining their excellent record.
“The sea can be a harsh environment and we rehearse every eventuality including a man overboard (MOB),” stated Clipper Race founder and chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. “The MOB procedures were put into practice flawlessly by the crew in difficult conditions. It is a tribute to their training and determination that Andrew was successfully recovered. It is always a concern when we have a major incident and we will want to analyse the circumstances in detail to see if there is anything we need to learn or review as a result.”
Following his recovery, Andrew was taken below decks for treatment by the on board medic, crew member Susie Redhouse (42) also from London, who is a paramedic clinical tutor. She reports he is suffering from shock and may have hypothermia. His condition is being monitored closely, but he appears to be in relatively good spirits and is talking with fellow crew members.
A competing team in the fleet of twelve identical 70-foot ocean racing yachts OneDLL responded to the mayday call and diverted course to render assistance as the closest yacht to Derry~Londonderry~Doire. Falmouth and US Coast Guard services were contacted and have now been stood down. Both boats have resumed racing.
This is only the fourth ever incident in the Clipper Race’s eighteen year history that someone has had to be recovered from the water. In both previous incidents, the crew members were recovered within minutes.
Sea safety is a fundamental practice of the Clipper Race. Before joining their boats all crew members must complete an extensive, four stage sailing and sea safety training course, including sea survival. This includes highly detailed instruction and practice of man overboard (MOB) procedure. All yachts are equipped with special MOB dummies and regularly rehearse search and recovery practice throughout the race.
The Pacific leg, between China and the US, is the tenth of sixteen stages which comprise the world’s longest ocean race at more than 40,000 miles. The fleet is just over the half way stage of the 5,600 mile race to San Francisco. The first boats are expected to finish under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge on 11 April. The Clipper 2013-14 Race left London on 1 September 2013 and returns to St Katharine Docks next to Tower Bridge on Saturday 12 July 2014.