More Clipper drama
California, one of ten entries competing in the Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race, has been dismasted in the latest storm to hit the fleet as it races across the Pacific Ocean to San Francisco. All the crew are reported to be safe and four of the California’s competitors, along with a merchant vessel in the vicinity, have diverted to rendez-vous with the US entry and offer assistance if required.
At around 1600 GMT on Sunday 22 March, Falmouth coastguard contacted Clipper Race office to advise that California’s EPIRB had been activated. The race team made immediate attempts to contact the boat through all the options open to them, but were unsuccessful. The on board tracking system indicated that the yacht had spent a couple of hours of very slow progress before picking up speed and then travelling at an average of seven knots towards San Francisco.
The knowledge that the area in which the yacht was sailing had been hit by a significant storm with winds in excess of 50 knots and associated heavy seas made it essential to establish why the EPIRB had been activated. Falmouth Coastguard handed over the incident to the US Coastguard who promptly sent a C130 aircraft towards the transmitting emergency beacon.
The crew of the aircraft successfully located the yacht and communicated with skipper Pete Rollason using VHF radio. The aircraft also made contact with fellow race entry, Jamaica Lightning Bolt, whose skipper, Pete Stirling, was able to relay the first brief detail back to the Clipper Race office.
The California skipper confirmed that the yacht has lost her mast at the first spreader, but that her hull is undamaged and that they are currently motoring towards San Francisco. Jamaica Lightning Bolt, Uniquely Singapore, Spirit of Australia and Hull & Humber have all been asked to make for the yacht and the Jamaica-sponsored boat is expected to be on station by around 1400 GMT. A merchant ship in the vicitinty has also been directed to the yacht by the US Coastguard and is due to arrive early this evening.
Pete Rollason confirms that one crew member has sustained a cut to the head, but is lucid and otherwise apparently fine. No other injuries have been reported and next of kin of all on board have been informed.
An update will be issued once Jamaica Lightning Bolt is on the scene and able to relay further details of how the incident occurred.