Originally posted November 8th, 2006
Within the last twenty-four hours two boats competing in the Route Du Rhum race have capsized in horrendous conditions in the North Atlantic. Steve Ravussin on Orange or rather under it had the good fortune to be rescued by the Okhta Bridge, a Russian flagged vessel of the Sovcomflot fleet.
Sovcomflot and its Chief Executive, Sergei Frank were extremely helpful to me in negotiating with the Russian authorities to secure permissions for the Alpha Global Expedition to transit the Northern Sea Route as part of the first single-handed vertical circumnavigation.
Shortly after Ravussin’s experience, Ross Hobson on Ideal Stelrad was bettered by 50 knot headwinds and 20 foot seas. He managed to activate his emergency beacon and the signal was picked up by Falmouth coastguard.
Autumnal weather in the North Atlantic can be unpredictable and ferocious as I learnt last year when I set off on the Alpha Global Expedition. Depressions can deepen quickly and hit sailors with little or no warning. Caught carrying too much sail, as happened to me on a number of occasions, can immediately put a boat in peril. Several times during my voyage across the northern Atlantic, we alerted Falmouth coastguard to potential situations when I found myself in heavy weather. Their response was always entirely calm and professional. Just knowing they were aware was a great comfort.
Both Steve and Ross are now safe, which must be the principal concern. Their respective experiences will give them an edge in future races knowing, as they will, the calamities which can unfold in the blink of an eye.