Solo racer Susie Goodall rescued from deep in the Southern Ocean
HOW THE GOLDEN GLOBE racer WAS Helped TO Safety from Deep IN THE SOUTHERN OCEAN
Golden Globe competitor Susie Goodall was rescued from the Southern Ocean in December after being pitchpoled and dismasted in her Rustler 36, DHL Starlight.
Goodall was 4th in the round the world singlehanded race, which is raced in ‘retro’ designs as a homage to the original Golden Globe race of 1969. She was 2,000 miles west of Cape
Horn when she was hit by 60-knot winds and 7m seas on 5 December.
DHL Starlight’s self-steering windvane had broken before the storm hit, in winds of 30-35 knots, so Goodall had handsteered for a period. As conditions worsened, she reduced sail and set her series drogue before going down below to rest. A short while afterwards, DHL Starlight pitchpoled, flinging the solo sailor across the cabin and briefly knocking her unconscious.
When Goodall recovered consciousness she found the boat filled with water, and initially believed she was sinking. She activated her EPIRB, and the distress signal was received by MRCC Falmouth. She also made contact with the Golden Globe race team, telling organiser Don Mcintyre: “The boat is destroyed. Inside and out, the boat is destroyed. I can’t make a jury rig, my windvane is ripped to pieces; the only thing that’s left is the hull. I don’t know if my engine works, I have no wind vane and no form of jury rig. My entire rig has gone overboard. But the whole hull and deck is intact.
“We rolled and I flew across the cabin, and I think I was knocked out for a moment or two because I didn’t quite know what had happened. I got a bit of [a hit to the] head. Right now the wind strength is probably about 45 knots, it’s calmed down. When I was dismasted it was at 60 knots.”
One of DHL Starlight’s spinnaker poles had been lost overboard earlier in the race, and when the second pole was swept away during the capsize, Goodall was left with no means of building a jury rig.
She was able to cut the remaining rigging away, bail the yacht out and control the water ingress as the hull and deck of the Rustler 36 were otherwise intact. She began to suffer severe headaches and seasickness from her concussion and the motion of the dismasted yacht.
MRCC Chile co-ordinated the rescue effort, contacting a cargo ship 480 miles south-west of Goodall’s position. The 190m MV Tian Fu had been on passage from China to Argentina when it went to her assistance, and reached Goodall two days after her dismasting. The master of Tian Fu decided he would not attempt to launch a lifeboat from the 40,000-tonne ship. Instead, the rescue was planned to retrieve Goodall by lowering a hook from a crane on Tian Fu’s deck.
The plan was for Goodall to motor alongside
Tian Fu, maintaining a safe distance between her and the extremely high-sided vessel, while a crane boom would be swung out and a lifting hook lowered for Goodall to attach herself to using her climbing harness. At the time the sea state was around 3-4m, making this an extremely dangerous operation.
The first attempt failed when DHL Starlight’s engine, which had been flooded during the
pitchpole, cut out on her approach. While
Goodall hasn’t released details of exactly how she achieved it, a subsequent attempt was successful, and Goodall secured herself to the lifting hook to be winched up to safety.
She sent a message from Tian Fu – “ON THE SHIP!!!” – at 1544 on 7 December.
Tian Fu arrived in Punta Arenas, southern
Chile one week later. On arrival Goodall issued a statement saying: ‘After arriving in Punta Arenas today, I’m still a little wobbly both emotionally and physically as I find my land legs again. I arrived with a heavy heart, no longer a competitor in the Golden Globe Race – but here is certainly a lot better than the alternative. And I wouldn’t be here today without the incredible support and seamanship shown by so many people over the past ten days.’
She thanked those who had been in her campaign and subsequent rescue, before adding: ‘If you asked me if I would I do this again, now knowing what it’s really like, I would say yes in a heartbeat!
She added: ‘You may ask why?! Some people just live for adventure – it’s human nature.
And for me, the sea is where my adventure lies. Having grown up admiring Tracy Edwards and Ellen Macarthur, I just knew that one day I needed to try to do this too.
‘Every seafarer understands the risks involved but that’s what makes us stronger and able to overcome other challenges in life.’
Goodall is the fourth skipper to be rescued during the Golden Globe race, and the fifth to be dismasted. On 27 August, Norwegian skipper Are Wiig was rolled and dismasted 400 miles southwest of Cape Town, but was able to sail to Cape Town under jury rig.
In September, Irish skipper Gregor Mcguckin and Indian Navy Commander Abhilash Tomy were both rolled and dismasted during a storm 1,900 miles south-west of Perth. Mcguckin was able to set a jury rig and sailed towards Tomy, who had suffered two fractures of the thoracic spine and was immobilised, before both were rescued by a fisheries patrol vessel. Dutch sailor Mark Slats, sailing in 2nd place, was rolled during the same storm.
Just five remaining
A month later, French yachtsman Loïc Lepage was rescued after his Nicholson 32 Mk X Laaland dismasted 600 miles south-west of Perth and began taking on water. Race leader Jean-luc
Van Den Heede has also been pitchpoled in his Rustler 36 Matmut, which damaged his lower shrouds. Of the 16 skippers who started the race in July 2018, just five remain in the race.
Goodall had attracted a large following in the Golden Globe Race. She was the only female skipper and the youngest entrant, as well as being one of the few entries to have a title sponsor, DHL.
She built a fan base despite the fact part of the Golden Globe concept means very little contact with the skippers – calls are made from the race office to check their safety, which are published on the event website, but sailors share no blogs or videos.
Even before the start of what was planned to be a nine-month solitary voyage, Goodall was reluctant to speak to the press gathered at the start in Les Sables d’olonne – and that hasn’t changed. Her mid-ocean rescue attracted huge media interest, but she would not divulge details, beyond saying she was “totally gutted” by the experience. Goodall has, however, hinted that she hopes to mount another campaign, posting online: “That fire in my belly is far from out, so watch this space.”
‘THE BOAT IS DESTROYED, THE ONLY THING THAT’S LEFT IS THE HULL’
Susie Goodall’s Rustler 36 as seen from the ship lying dismasted with rig and sails carried away
Left: this series shows Susie Goodall being winched aboard MV Tian Fu (above) from DHL Starlight using one of the ship’s cranes