Clipper Medi-Vac

As round the world race fleet is two days out from Salvador, bound for Durban

Friday October 26th 2007, Author: Zoe Williamson, Location: none selected
Sam Willis, a crew member on Hull & Humber in the Clipper 07-08 Round the World Yacht Race, is to be evacuated from the vessel with a suspected grumbling appendix.

The 17-year old crew member from Hull was reported as suffering from severe stomach pains on the second day of Race 3 from Salvador to Durban. At 1240 GMT on 25 October Hull & Humber's skipper, Danny Watson, contacted the Race Office and Falmouth Coastguard to report the situation. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) referred the skipper to the duty consultant at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth who, at 1255 GMT, advised the skipper to monitor the patient, keep up fluid intake and to administer paracetamol and indigestion tablets if required. It was advised that if the patient’s condition had not improved in 12 to 24 hours, or if his condition deteriorated, the skipper was to contact the MCA again and seek further advice.

At approximately 0950 GMT on 26 October 2007 Falmouth Coastguard contacted the Clipper Race Office, stating Sam had a suspected grumbling appendix and that the advice from Queen Alexandra Hospital was to medivac him as soon as possible.

At 1000 GMT Race Director Joff Bailey spoke directly to skipper Danny Watson onboard Hull & Humber and advised them to stop racing and divert towards Vitoria, a small town on the Brazilian coast approximately 200 nautical miles away from the vessel at that time.

At 1025 GMT the Clipper Race Office informed the MCA Falmouth of the diversion.

Danny Watson confirmed at 1057 GMT that Hull & Humber was proceeding under motor to Porto De Vitoria, Brazil to evacuate crew member Sam Willis. “Sam is comfortable and has a sore upper right abdomen,” reported Danny. “We have a crewmember with him at all times to monitor his condition.”

Joff Bailey, said: “Between Danny and the Coastguard the decision was made early this morning to remove Sam from the boat. Danny is a very experienced skipper and Sam could not be in better hands. I’m sure that Sam is disappointed but we could not take the risk of his condition worsening as the boats head out into the south Atlantic. I’m sure Sam will be back with us at a later stage of the race.”

When the transfer is complete, Danny and his crew will continue in the race to Durban, South Africa, a 4,100 mile journey across the south Atlantic. Race 3 from Salvador to Durban began at 1500 GMT on Wednesday 24 October. It is the second ocean crossing of the ten month series, which started in Liverpool on 16 September and will finish in Liverpool in July 2008 and when the city celebrates its status as the European Capital of Culture.

As well as Hull & Humber, the international line-up competing in Clipper 07-08 includes Durban 2010 and Beyond, Liverpool 08, Nova Scotia, New York,, Jamaica, Uniquely Singapore, Qingdao and Glasgow: Scotland with style Clipper.

With 27 nationalities represented amongst the 400 race crew, Clipper 07-08 is a truly global event. Up to 17 crew members from varying backgrounds sail on each yacht at any one time and they all put their everyday lives on hold for up to ten months to take part in the Clipper Race.

The crews have spent the last months preparing for the race ahead and each one of them has completed comprehensive Clipper Training overseen by Clipper Chairman and legendary solo sailor, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.

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