Derry~Londonderry~Doire crew member, Andrew Taylor (46) from London was rescued from the Pacific Ocean in the early hours of this morning after falling overboard. He went over the side at 23.43 UTC last night in rough weather and was sighted again at 00.55 UTC before being recovered at approx. 01.13 UTC this morning (13.13 local time, 30 March).
The incident happened in rough weather with 35 knots of wind and clear visibility in daylight. Skipper Sean McCarter reported that he was working with Andrew on a sail change near the bow when he went over the side. Sean immediately went back to the helm, stopped the yacht and initiated the MOB (man overboard) procedure.
Race Director Justin Taylor explained: “In these conditions a man overboard is swept away from the boat very quickly and visual contact can be lost in the swell. We have a well-rehearsed procedure to mark the position, stop racing and engaged the engine to search for and recover the crew member as quickly as possible.
“An hour and a half is a very long time to be in the water in these conditions but a combination of his sea survival training and seven months at sea as well as wearing a life jacket and dry suit will have contributed enormously to his survival.”
Following his recovery, Andrew was taken below decks for treatment by the on board medic, crew member Susie Redhouse (42) also from London, who is a paramedic clinical tutor. She reports he is suffering from shock and may have hypothermia. His condition is being monitored closely, but he appears to be in relatively good spirits and is talking with fellow crew members.
Back on board Andrew says: "It all happened so quickly, I was literally gone, like that. I didn’t know if the crew were looking for me or not, I didn’t know if they had seen me, I couldn’t hear anything. I tried to stay so I could see the boat, I kept moving round, swimming round so I could see the boat thinking it'd be back really quickly but it just got further and further away.
"I was holding the spray vest up trying to make myself a bit bigger after a while I thought the wind might be pushing it and pushing me further away so I put it back down again. I kept watching the boat and then I saw the side of the boat and thought that was a good thing I thought it was turning round. Then I saw the back of the boat again and that’s not a good thing. Then I just heard a noise and got wiped out by a really big wave. That’s when the storm started, the storm was bad, that was horrible – hailstones, my hands were so cold."
Clipper Race founder and Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston commented: "The MOB procedures were put into practice flawlessly by the crew in difficult conditions. It is a tribute to their training and determination that Andrew was successfully recovered. It is always a concern when we have a major incident and we will want to analyse the circumstances in detail to see if there is anything we need to learn or review as a result.”
OneDLL responded to the mayday call and diverted course to render assistance as the closest yacht to Derry~Londonderry~Doire. Falmouth and US Coast Guard services were contacted and have now been stood down. Both boats have resumed racing.
This is only the fourth ever incident in the Clipper Race’s eighteen year history that someone has had to be recovered from the water. In both previous incidents, the crew members were rescued within minutes.
Sea safety is fundamental and all crew members complete extensive training, including sea survival, which incorporates highly detailed instruction and practice of the MOB procedure. All yachts are equipped with special MOB dummies and regularly rehearse search and recovery practice throughout the race.