ARC fatality named

After Saturday's tragic man overboard incident

Tuesday December 3rd 2002, Author: Jeremy Wyatt, Location: Transoceanic
Following the tragic death of Phillip Hitchcock on Saturday, further details of the man-overboard incident are becoming clear.

The Mayday distress from the yacht occurred at 1230 UTC on Saturday 30 November. Falmouth Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) who co-ordinated the incident in liaison with MRCC Ponta Delgada, were assisted by World Cruising Club, which immediately redirected the yachts in the area to Toutazimut's position. At the time of the incident the yacht was mid Atlantic, 24.06N 26.02W. Conditions were described as windy and rough, with big seas and 30 knots of wind.

However, the distressing news of Phillip's death was confirmed later that afternoon. Phillip Hitchcock and his 52 year old brother David were the only crew aboard the yacht. The Hitchcock's family were immediately informed of the loss.

At this time, it is unclear as to how Phillip fell overboard. Although he was harnessed on, it proved extremely difficult to recover him onboard the yacht in the heavy sea conditions at the time. After getting the yacht under control and heaving-to, David discovered that his brother was dead. The cause of death as yet is unknown.

In the hours following the incident, in continuing difficult weather conditions, it proved impossible to recover the body without putting David at further risk. Following advice from the MRCC the body was not recovered, and Toutazimut has continued on towards St.Lucia.

ARC yacht Mekia has subsequently rendezvoused with Toutazimut, with the aim of transferring crew to assist David once the sea conditions permit. Following days of strong NE winds, there is still a large swell running, with waves heights of 12-14ft, although these are forecast to reduce over the next 24-36 hours.

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