Bri­tish solo yachtswoman awaits res­cue af­ter sur­viv­ing South­ern Ocean storm

The Guardian Australia - - Sport - Steven Mor­ris

A ma­jor res­cue op­er­a­tion is un­der way in the South­ern Ocean af­ter a Bri­tish solo yachtswoman was in­jured and and her boat “de­stroyed” in a fierce storm on day 157 of a cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion.

Susie Goodall, the youngest com­peti­tor and only woman in the 30,000-mile Golden Globe round-the­world race, is at least two days from help af­ter her boat over­turned and lost its mast.

Wa­ter also filled the hull and Goodall, 29, from Fal­mouth in Corn­wall, ini­tially thought her 11m (35ft) boat, DHL Starlight, had been holed. But she has con­firmed the hull is in­tact, the boat man­aged to right it­self, and she has told race con­trol that she does not need im­me­di­ate as­sis­tance.

How­ever, her po­si­tion – about 2,000 miles west of Cape Horn – is re­mote and the near­est ves­sel that could help is 480 miles – two days – away.

Her plight is made more dif­fi­cult by the na­ture of the race – a back-to­ba­sics event to cel­e­brate the 50th an­niver­sary of Sir Robin Knox-John­ston’s his­toric first solo non-stop cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion. The 18 skip­pers tak­ing part are in boats sim­i­lar to those sailed by KnoxJohn­ston, which are not equipped with mod­ern tech­nol­ogy or satel­lite-based nav­i­ga­tion aids.

Goodall was ly­ing in 4th place at the time, fight­ing for a podium fin­ish but rid­ing out a fe­ro­cious storm with 60knot winds and mas­sive seas.

In a text mes­sage to race con­trol at 8.29am on Wed­nes­day, she re­ported: “Tak­ing a ham­mer­ing! Won­der­ing what on Earth I’m do­ing out here!”

At 11am a dis­tress sig­nal was picked up from her yacht by Fal­mouth coast­guards, who alerted race con­trol and the Chilean mar­itime search and res­cue, which is re­spon­si­ble for the sec­tor of the South Pa­cific she is in.

At 12.23pm she wrote: “Dis­masted, hull okay. No form of jury rig [makeshift re­pairs], to­tal loss” and gave the co-or­di­nates for her po­si­tion.

Af­ter three at­tempts, race HQ was able to raise Goodall on her emer­gency satel­lite phone when she con­firmed: “I have been dis­masted. Thought I had holed the hull be­cause the boat filled with wa­ter, but the hull is not holed. The hull is okay. The boat is de­stroyed. I can’t make up a jury rig. The only thing left is the hull and deck which re­main in­tact.

“We were pitch­poled [rolled end over end] and I was thrown across the cabin and knocked out for a while.”

Race or­gan­is­ers said Goodall was speak­ing with emo­tion but ap­peared in con­trol. She con­firmed that she had se­cured all hatches, port­holes and safety equip­ment, and in­sisted she did not need im­me­di­ate as­sis­tance.

Goodall also said that be­fore the in­ci­dent she had been en­joy­ing the tough con­di­tions but her self-steer­ing de­vice mal­func­tioned and she was forced to trail a sea an­chor and take down the main­sail. She was be­low decks when the boat was pitch­poled.

The skip­per said she had been “beaten up and badly bruised’ with cuts and scratches and had a big bump on her head.

Race HQ has been work­ing out how to res­cue Goodall. The near­est com­peti­tor is Es­to­nian Uku Rand­maa, 400 miles from Goodall and about to face the same storm con­di­tions, so it has been judged im­prac­ti­cal for him to try to reach her.

It was de­cided that the Amer­i­can/ Hun­gar­ian Ist­van Kopar, 780 miles to the west of her, could try to in­ter­cept Goodall. But Kopar would take six days to reach her.

The Chilean au­thor­i­ties have con­tacted a ship 480 miles south-west of Goodall’s po­si­tion and re­quested as­sis­tance. Her cap­tain ex­pects to take two days to get to the area.

Goodall had al­ready been hit by a spec­tac­u­lar storm in the South­ern Ocean. Speak­ing be­fore the cur­rent emer­gency, she said: “That was bru­tal – it took me a week to re­cover. The seas were com­ing from four di­rec­tions and I kept be­ing knocked down.”

Goodall was in­tro­duced to the sport aged three and is an off­shore and ocean sail­ing in­struc­tor. Ex­plain­ing why she wanted to take part in the Golden Globe Race, she said: “When I was lit­tle I heard about these peo­ple who sailed around the world on their own, for fun, and I knew I wanted to do that one day too. So when I first heard there was go­ing to be a re-run of the Golden Globe Race, my mind was made up and I was go­ing to be on that start line.”

Off Tasmania she had cleared bar­na­cles cling­ing to the bot­tom of her yacht and man­aged to briefly chat with fam­ily and sup­port­ers in the UK.

Asked if the ocean was a friend or foe, she replied: “The ocean is a friend who turns on me now and again.” She said her most use­ful gad­get was a por­ta­ble cas­sette player and that she missed fresh food, her iPod and Kin­dle.

Sport/GGR/PPL Pho­to­graph: Mav­er­ick

Susie Goodall, the sole fe­male en­trant in the 2018 Golden Globe Race.

Pho­to­graph: Susie Goodall Rac­ing/PPL/GGR

Goodall’s yacht DHL Starlight.

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