Golden Globe Race lifesaving regulations.

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Golden Globe Race. Asteria sinking, lessons to be learnt

Many people talk about the eye watering effort GGR entrants make to meet the tough safety and qualifying requirements of this gruelling mind game called the Golden Globe. When all the boxes are ticked, they finally receive a “green card” in Les Sables d’Olonne just before the start.

These unique GGR safety regulations have played an important part in saving Tapio Lehtinen following the sinking of his yacht in the Southern Ocean and he appreciates it! Two other entrants have rigging issues after 80 days at sea and Kirsten sets a new 219-mile day record! But the big question is… where are the Roaring Forties?

Golden Globe entrant Tapio Lehtinen (FIN) rescued from his life raft last week is currently enjoying the hospitality of his rescuers Capt. Naveen Kumar Mehrotra and his crew on the M.V. Darya Gayatri bound for Rizhao, China. He has no money, no passport, and no glasses, but is in good health and good spirits. He has now shared information with the organisers regarding this incident and rescue. He does not know for sure what caused the failure and sinking of his yacht Asteria and is still coming to terms with the loss of his beloved yacht.

The accident was a devastating surprise, I had 100% confidence in Asteria being fit for the fight. She performed beautifully and I was very happy and proud of her. After a total rebuild four years ago for the 2018 GGR and being fitted out and inspected again this year, being flooded up to deck level in five minutes and sinking twenty minutes later in beautiful summer conditions is beyond my comprehension.

But the rock-solid professionalism of Don McIntyre in coordinating the rescue operation together with MRCCs in Cape Town, Kirsten Neuschäfer, Abhilash Tomyand m/v Darya Gayatri captain Naveen Kumar Mehrotra came as no surprise to me. On the contrary, already before the start of the race, at a safety briefing in Les Sables d’Olonne, I told my competitors that if we’d get into trouble, we would be in the best of hands. I never imagined that I would be the one.

Thank you, Don – getting into the raft in a rush without my grab bags of food, medicine and water, I knew that it wouldn’t be a long stay.

TAPIO LEHTINEN

When Tapio woke to a loud bang, he stepped into knee deep water with more flooding like a river from the engine compartment. With no time to think, he prepared the Plastimo “special edition” GGR life raft in the cockpit and donned his dry survival suit, grabbing the small GGR communications emergency grab bag on the way out. With the raft inflated beside the boat, the securing line he had re-set with a slip knot, unfortunately let go! It began drifting away. He could not go below for the main grab bag, as water was above waist height and the decks were awash, so he jumped for the raft now 3 metres from the boat. He had been unable to reach his EPIRB inside the boat, which later automatically water activated, sending the first DISTRESS alert. But it went down with the yacht 20 minutes later taking his two other emergency beacons with it.

Tapio credits the GGR safety regulations for his survival in the Southern Indian Ocean. Picture Credit: Nora Havel / GGR2022

Fortunately, GGR safety regulations require a PLB distress beacon and waterproof VHF handheld radio with GPS to be packed inside the raft. In the shock of the moment, he forgot the PLB was in the raft. He found it nearly two hours later and turned it on. At that point it was his only distress beacon. Inside the GGR comms grab bag his spare satellite phone was damaged while boarding the raft. (His main sat phone stored at the chart table went down with the ship). Also, inside was the backup waterproof YB3 satellite tracker and texting unit.

GGR control on learning of the EPIRB Distress and noting ASTERIA’s onboard Tracker was no longer transmitting, assumed the boat had sunk and that Tapio was probably in the raft. GGR remotely activated the backup YB3 and noted it had been powered on by Tapio. This was exciting news. A message was sent “Are You OK?”

Tapio responded shortly after that he was in the raft, all well and Asteria had sunk! This then gave a second position of the raft that was linked to the GGR 24hr online tracking page for all to see. Using the same YB3 unit, Tapio was able to send and receive short messages from the raft, a great comfort for him as a survivor, his family and all his followers around the world. His rescue was a success.

I know from experience over the past 30 years that when all goes wrong you may not get your grab bag, so what’s in the raft is all you may have. I always pack a distress beacon in my rafts and now a VHF/GPS, so I made it mandatory for GGR too. I also lost a good friend deep in the Southern Ocean in the 1994 BOC challenge when his 48hr EPIRB battery ran out before the ship arrived. We now insist on the YB3 unit in the GGR comms grab bag which tracks every 15 minutes for months, including two-way texting. Tapio was happy to have both.

DON MCINTYRE

This incident will be the subject of a full GGR report in the weeks ahead, which will be published so all can learn from the experience.

Time Compensation following ASTERIA sinking

It is a long-held tradition of the sea, that if a mariner is in Distress and declares a “Mayday”, all other mariners will use their best endeavours to immediately assist if they are safely able to do so. Such was the case for Abhilash Tomy (IND) on Bayanat and Kirsten Neuschäfer (RSA) onMinnehaha when asked by GGR control to assist in the rescue of fellow GGR entrant Tapio Lehtinen on ASTERIA. Both altered courses immediately and stopped racing on receiving the request. The rescue was successful.

To calculate time compensation for both sailors all the facts affecting both sailors were considered, focusing on the primary impacts of:

  1. Time away from the course
  2. Changing and new weather systems on resuming the course.
  3. Position at the start and finish of their diversion.

PRIMARY DATA

Abhilash acknowledged the rescue message at 0930 UTC and was subsequently released at 13:50 UTC, (4:20 hours). He confirmed he resumed racing at 1400 UTC (total 4:30 hours) and he also stayed on a higher course (80° approx.) for the duration of the rescue in case he may be needed. Engine: did not use the engine.

Distance 27.5 nm @ 50°, approx. Lateral 23 nm/vertical 15 nm

Kirsten acknowledged the rescue message at 1303UTC and called to confirm transfer to vessel at 0745+1 but stayed on scene until 1000 UTC before proceeding under reduced sails: total 22 hours. Engine hours: 2 beginning, 2 middle, 3 at the end for a total of 7 hours.

5 hrs @ 1.8K rpm=3.5 l/h= 15,5lt and 2 hrs @ 2.4K rpm=5 l/h = 10lt. Total 25.5 litres

Distance 100 miles @ 38°approx, lateral 57 nm/vertical 83 nm

The following time compensation has been determined:

  • Kirsten Neuschäfer 35 hours + 30 litres of fuel
  • Abhilash Tomy 12hrs

Abhilash and Kirsten both commented that it took some time to let the adrenaline go, and get back into racing mode. Abhilash remained on a more northerly course than normal for the duration of the rescue, asking to be updated on progress and Kirsten had steered Minnehaha all night and manoeuvred at close quarters to the vessel for Tapio’s transfer.

Latest news from Kirsten in her regular weekly safety call.