Mark beaten off his boat but still in the race

Golden Globe Race

Day 82 of the Golden Globe Race is dominated by a bizarre storm. More than 70 knots of wind and waves of more than 15 meters high are reported. Mark Slats says via a textmessage: 'unbelievable wind and seas but so far all is good, survivalmode'. After a short time: 'Just smashed door, boat full of water and had fire after a... Can fix most, but want run with storm and survive '. During several knockdowns (boat makes a slope of 90 degrees or more and the mast is for a short time under water), his boat the Ophen Maverick, has suffered damage.

Two participants, including one seriously injured, lose mast
That same afternoon, it became clear that Gregor McGuckin lost his mizzen mast during a knockdown. A few hours later, the Irishman made a 360-roll in which he loses his main mast and is out of the race. Shortly afterwards Abhilash Tomy, from India,  also made a 360-roll, lost his mast and suffered a severe backinjury. How serious the reported backinjury is, is not clear at the time. The Golden Globe Race organization doesn't manage to make contact with Abhilash. During the night ( Friday to Saturday), after almost 15 hours of radiosilence, the redemptive news follows; 'Unable 2 leave bunk. Will try 2 check phone and mast by day'. Later Abhilash reported that he was not able to move, he probably needed a stretcher and he was unable to get his spare communication equipment and tracker.  Racecontrol called International emergency services.

During this heavy storm, Abhilash is halfway South Africa and Australia at about 1900 nautical miles southwest of Perth, Australia. It will take days before emergency services can reach Abhilash. The remaining participants of the race are notified by the organization and exciting hours start. Gregor McGuckin, who lost his mast earlier that day, is probably able to reach Abhilash. For this he first had to set up an jury rig. What his diesel stock was on day 82 of the race still no one knew. Slats' supporters in the Netherlands were approached Fridaynight by a friend and sponsor of the Indian skipper. He asked whether Slats can sail to Abhilash and offer him help. At that time Slats sails almost 400 miles East from Abhilash and can't be reached from Holland due to the damage caused to his radio.

Mark Slats beaten off the boat.
Slats made a satphonecall with racecontrol on Saturday morning. He's still sailing in 40 knots at that time and has to deal with 15 meter high waves. He had several knockdowns and the companion door has been smashed by the violence of water. His boat was full of water (1m high) and electronics were ruined by waterdamage. Slats, who used a lifeline, was beaten off the boat in the storm. A huge wave has also put him back on board of his 36 ft boat. Slats reports bruises but is okay. He is frustrated that his radio doesn't work anymore and that both weatherconditions and position make it impossible to provide Abhilash with help. For his own safety, racecontrol strongly discourages Slats to try and reach Abhilash.

Photos damaged ship Thuriya
Sunday afternoon photos of Abhilash 'boat Thuriya are released. An Indian military aircraft, P-8 Orion, flew over for inspection and made photographs of the situation. On the photos you can see a more calm sea. Abhilash heard the aircraft and switched off his EPIRB for a short time and then turned it on again to show them his location. An EPIRB is an emergency radio beacon that can only be used when communications via radio, medium or short-wave transmitter or satellite connection is no longer possible. The mast of the Thuriya lies in the water and acts as a floating anchor. The boat is floating westward.

Situation injured Abhilash
The rescue operation is coordinated by JRCC (Joint Rescue Coordination Center) in Canberra Australia. The JRCC works closely with Indian and French authorities. The SAR (Search And Rescue) officers coordinate serious situations both on the water and in the air. Gregor McGuckin is expected to reach Abhilash's boat on Mondaymorning. The Irishman can't start his engine and sails with a jury rig towards Abhilash. Racecontrol provides updates regarding position and distance to Abhilash. McGuckin may request the JRCC to abandon his own ship and board Abhilash. MSOS doctors in the UK can then talk to Abhilash via Gregor's satellite phone and support Gregor in providing first aid. The French fisheries patrol vessel Osiris does have medical support on board and is on its way. Osiris doesn't expect to arrive at Abhilash before 10:00 AM. On Sunday, two other aircrafts flew over Abhilash and Gregor. They managed to make contact with Gregor McGuckin.

The middle fleet
Earlier in the week, during Slats' weekly satphonecall with racecontrol Slats told Don that he was very happy to have Irishman Gregor McGuckin, Indian Abhilash Tomy and Uku Randma from Estonia around. The four sailors formed 'the middle fleet' behind French leader Jean Luc van den Heede. They talked to each other by radio several times a day. They shared  weatherforecasts, discussed about the sails they were using and pushed each other in the race and survival mode. Slats now sails in the direction of Hobart, Australia without entrants in his immediate vicinity.

Only 8 participants in the race
Originally 18 participants would participate in the Golden Globe Race, a solo non-stop race around the world with no modern equipment for communication and navigation. On July 1, however,  Italian participant Fransesco Cappelletti was not yet ready for departure. On day 82 of the race, only 8 participants are still in the race. Ten others are out of the race for personal reasons or due to damage to the boat and / or material. The last three participants that dropped out lost their mast. Slats is still in second position.

Pressrelease & photo: Karen Hogenbirk | Hogenbirk Support