Irish sailor Gregor McGuckin, who was dismasted and rescued in the Southern Ocean, has arrived safely in Perth
Following the dismasting of his Biscay 36 yacht Hanley Energy Endurance and subsequent rescue by Australian frigate HMAS Ballarat, Gregor McGuckin has arrived in Rockingham, Perth, Australia. At a press conference a short time later, he said:
‘It’s fantastic to be here in Perth. While Australia was never my intended final port, I couldn’t be happier and more grateful right now. My journey started some 92 days ago, when I departed France on Hanley Energy Endurance in an attempt to sail alone non-stop around the world.
‘In a horrendous storm, my yacht was capsized and dismasted, as was my competitor Abhilash Tomy’s yacht. I was uninjured and was planning to sail to safety. However, Abhilash was not so lucky. He suffered a back injury and was in immediate danger, so I built a jury rig and set a course for his location. Thankfully, we were both picked up and Abhilash is now recovering.
‘The real heroes today are the professionals that coordinate and execute such missions. All services were tested to their limits and excelled. The international cooperation between Australia, France, and India has proven that no matter how remote, there is always cover, and the investment in naval assets and training paid off. I understand the Ballarat crew had returned early from leave and I pass on my deep gratitude to them and their families for their dedication to duty.’
McGuckin continued: ‘Of course, the Golden Globe Race continues and my thoughts are very much with my fellow competitors. My incident merely underpins the challenges they face and I am sure we would all wish the remaining boats a safe passage until the race completes next year. I would also like to thank Don McIntyre and his team for their support.
‘Right now I want to spend time with my family. I will reflect on my experience and address all matters and questions at great length in due course. Thanks again to all involved. I will forever be indebted for your efforts.’
Hanley Energy Endurance is currently drifting in the Southern Ocean, after McGuckin was instructed by his rescuers not to scuttle the boat. Debris was cleared from the deck, and the AIS transmitter will continue to warn other vessels of its position, with power supplied by the yacht’s solar panels.
There are now eight competitors remaining in the event out of the 18 that started in Les Sables d’Olonne. 73-year old French sailor Jean-Luc Van Den Heede is leading the race with a lead of over 1,500 miles on his nearest rivals, and is expected to reach the Tasmania gate on Friday.
British sailor Susie Goodall is currently in fourth place, just over 2,600 miles between the leader. She has been plagued by light winds. She reported yesterday: ‘No wind, but now used to these calms. Boat OK. A whale came yesterday very close, and a sea lion this morning. Not so much water. I’m a little bit concerned.’ She has discovered that the yellow paint on her sails is tinting the water she can collect from the sails an is concerned that this could be toxic.
Many of the competitors are in regular radio contact, including Dutchman Mark Slats in second place and Estonian Uku Randmaa in third