VDH heads for Australia

Stricken yachtsman Jean-Luc van den Heede is making slow progress under his jury rig

Thursday January 9th 2003, Author: Rivacom, Location: Transoceanic
In the past 24 hours, Jean-Luc van den Heede has carried his dismasted monohull Adriene 70 nautical miles to the north north-west under jury rig and has decided on his landfall.

“I am quite content, I have made one degree in the right direction," said the round the world race veteran. "In the end I have decided to make for Melbourne. It’s a great Australian town where I can do everything that I need, even though I still don’t know what’s in store. However, I have no idea when I will arrive. Adrien is no longer manoeuvrable - it’s the wind which is deciding for me. I can only sail when the wind is on the beam or on the stern. I will arrive when I can and going on an average of 60 nautical miles per 24 hours, it should take me three weeks to get back to dry land”.

At 1100 GMT Wednesday, VDH had just checked out his jury rig and remained optimistic that it would hold. "The spinnaker pole is fragile but it can still take quite a lot of strain. I have already set the solent out on a pole with very strong winds”.

Despite the gruelling conditions VDH is keeping in good spirits: "The boat is afloat, I have means of communication, energy, diesel and food at my disposal… I am giving myself a day off after the dismasting. I was soaked through. In addition I worked on my knees a lot and I’m very stiff. For now it’s better. I’m going to change the wand which was ripped off when the mast fell."

VDH still has no wish to request assistance. "There is no reason whatsoever to throw those ashore into turmoil. I request no assistance as I’m not in danger. I am not at the stage that Isabelle Autissier was at when she was rescued by the Australians. We remember well what a shambles that caused”.

At present Adrien is making steady progress. The wind has dropped in anticipation of the next southerly depression which is set to arrive in the next few hours. "Currently the wind is north-west. I can’t keep on a good course but it will shift round and strengthen to the west. Then I will be able to head towards Melbourne”.

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