Hatfield dismasts in Cape Horn storm

Canadian mountie faces Southern Ocean wrath in Around Alone

Friday March 7th 2003, Author: Mary Ambler, Location: Transoceanic
Canadian skipper Derek Hatfield reported in at 16:53GMT on 7 March to Around Alone Race HQ that his Open 40 boat Spirit of Canada had just been dismasted at 55 48 S 66 12 W, 30 miles to the ENE of Cape Horn. Derek confirmed that he was safe and has cut away the rig; that the boat is stable, although extensively damaged.

The keel is loose again but he is confident that this problem is not going to worsen. He added that the winds at the time were gusting up to 80 knots from the west. Raymarine weather files (viewed online at www.aroundalone.com ) show an intense low pressure passing to his South.

The appropriate rescue authorities and an ice-breaker/cruise ship 100 miles from Derek’s position returning from the Antarctic, were immediately alerted to stand by should Hatfield request assistance, however so far the skipper is intending to head into Ushuaia under motor. At 22:00 GMT positions, Spirit of Canada was at 55°30' S 66°04' W ESE of Port Williams.

The Captain of the cruise vessel on its way back from an Antarctic expedition was able to confirm to the Race HQ that the winds were around 70 knots and the waves 40 foot high. Coincidentally a friend of Derek’s was aboard the ship and had pre-arranged for both vessels to rendez-vous at Cape Horn today as Derek’s ETA had matched theirs. The intention was to film the Canadian Open 40 passing the famous rock; now ironically, this ship is actively heading to his current position and is on stand by should Derek need assistance.

Nearest skipper in the Around Alone fleet is fellow Open 40 sailor, Bermudian Alan Paris on BTC Velocity, who had at 00:30 GMT 7th March had rounded Cape Horn himself in storm force conditions. Alan was alerted by the Race HQ of Derek’s dismasting as an initial precaution, but not asked to divert to assist Spirit of Canada. Soon after, Alan sent this poignant email through, which sums up the man Derek Hatfield is and the need now more than ever for the spirit of collaboration to be called upon:

"I feel horrible and have to admit that the emotions in me are running so high that I was just literally shedding tears of frustration for my good friend Derek. Derek and I have been dreaming of the Around Alone since we first met in 1995, doing the Bermuda - One Two, we have become friends and swapped much information and encouragement in the lead up to the race. I flew to Canada to his beautiful boat, Spirit of Canada during its construction stages, a yacht that Derek, family and friends built over a period of three years. He competed admirably in the Europe One Star race in 1996, a race I tried to enter but failed to cross the Atlantic.

"In the weeks prior to the start Derek, his shore crew and myself were housed by the same family in Newport and our bond, determination and passion for this grueling race became even stronger. This has been a bad leg for Derek, first electronics, then his keel mechanism, but all were surmountable with his consistent determination and desire to compete. Losing his mast is another story, I don't know if he can recover from this catastrophic loss, to a non sponsored campaign. Time and finances are not on his side.

"If ever there was a time that someone who has been encouraged, inspired and lived vicariously through Derek's and the other skippers exploits and wants to help him in any way, particularly I would guess in a financial way, now is the time. What we have is a good man down and he needs help. Regards, Alan - BTC Velocity"

Below is the map for Cape Horn, showing the gale force westerly wind Hatfield and Alan Paris have been encountering

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