Code Red alert: Golden Globe fleet hit by massive Southern Ocean storm

Solo sailors in the 2018 Golden Globe Race have been hit by a vicious storm midway across the South Indian Ocean and the 70 knot winds and 14m seas have left India's Abhilash Tomy, and Ireland's Gregor McGuckin, dismasted, and twice knocked down the yacht of 2nd placed Dutchman Mark Slats.

Both McGuchin and Slats report that they are OK, but 39-year old Tomy, a Commander in the Indian Navy making his second solo circumnavigation has been injured. A CODE RED ALERT was issued after Race HQ received his message at 12:09 UTC today: Rolled. Dismasted. Severe Back Injury. Cannot Get Up.

Maritime Rescue Authorities were also alerted:
Position: 39' 38.420 S 077' 22.565 E. Weather and sea is extreme.
GGR Control has asked him to confirm if he can turn his sat phone on, if the mast is still alongside the boat and if he has tuned on his EPIRB?
Awaiting response. We have no further information at this time….
Have advised other entrants to make towards his position if possible.

The nearest yacht happens to be Gregor McGuckin's Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance, some 90 miles to the south-west of Tomy's Thuriya, but she too was dismasted in the same storm and the Irishman is battened down waiting for the storm to recede.

Gregor reported earlier that his yacht is a mess below, but providing his diesel supplies have not been contaminated, has sufficient fuel to motor towards Tomy's position if conditions allow.

McGuckin first alerted Race HQ at 05:40 today: Rough night. Knocked down. Mizzen mast gone. All else good.

Then In a satellite call shortly before losing his main mast, the Irishman told Race HQ: “Massive sea and wind from the south-west. Now struggling to keep the boat facing downwind. We took a really bad knock when we lost the mizzen mast. It went off like a bomb and also hit the wind vane and the main backstay, I wanted to keep [the mizzen] but was forced to cut it free,

“Now sailing under bare poles and towing warps, and still making over 6kts. Getting knocked hard by waves. This sustained force 9 is incredible. The barometer dropped off the scale from 1015 in just a few hours.

“There is no real water below, since the hatch was shut but there is crap everywhere. My AIS went with the mast. I will need 36hrs to regroup and sort the boat properly in good weather after the blow.”

Then at 11:00 UTC McGuckin called the GGR Hotline to say: “Rolled and dismasted. Cut mast away…no hull damage…no water below…safety gear and sat comms secure…hatches and ports secure… towing warps.”

Don McIntyre, who took the call, says “Gregor has not asked for any assistance at this time. He plans to ride out the rest of the storm which is expected to recede around 19:00 UTC, then reassess his options. He now has only one spinnaker pole because the second one was carried away with the mast, so setting up a jury rig will be more challenging.

Both Tomy and McGuckin are some 1,900 miles west of Cape Leeuwin, West Australia.

Danger remains even when the winds reduce. Dutchman Mark Slats in second place, reported at 10:55 UTC: “Winds dropped from 60 knots to 0 in 15min. Horrible sea. Two knockdowns in no wind.”

There are concerns also for the tail-enders within the fleet now stretched 3,500 miles behind Race leader Jean-Luc Van Den Heede. A second storm has been building for several days and is forecast to overrun them within the next 24 hours, bringing the potential of 10-14m swells for 48 hours.

McIntyre adds “Race HQ has been advising the middle fleet to head south for the past two days and the tail-enders to move north as fast as possible to minimise the impact of these two storms.

“The skippers succeeded in doing this, but these weather systems still have an impact. The GGR team is living these storms with the entrants 24 hours a day.

“These are tough sailors; they are our family, and while we know they are well prepared to manage this, we also know the Southern Ocean is a powerful place,” McIntyre ended.

The only person unaffected by the storms is Jean-Luc Van Den Heede whose yacht Matmut is running towards the Cape Leeuwin longitude in a different weather system to the rest. This morning, the Frenchman reported: “Quiet sunny day. Lunch on the terrace – what a change!”

Skipper Distance to finish VMG during last 24 hours Distance behind leader
1 Jean- Luc VDH (FRA)
Rustler 36 Matmut 14690 5.2 knots 0
2 Mark Slats (NED)
Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick 15971 5.3 knots 1281
3 Abhilash Tomy (IND)
Suhaili replica Thuriya 16119 4.2 knots 1429
4 Gregor McGuckin (IRE)
Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance 16176 3.1 knots 1486
5 Uku Randmaa (EST) Rustler 36 One and All 16529 1.3 knots 1839
6 Susie Goodall GBR) Rustler 36 DHL Starlight
Rustler 36 DHL Starlight 17223 1.2 knots 2533
7 Tapio Lehtinen (FIN)
Gaia 36 Asteria 17425 0.9 knots 2735
8 Istvan Kopar (USA)Tradewind 35 Puffin 17673 0.6 knots 2983
9 Igor Zaretskiy (RUS)
Endurance 35 Esmeralda 17842 0.2 knots 3152
10 Mark Sinclair (Aus)
Lello 34 Coconut 18137 3.5 knots 3447

Chichester Class
1. Loïc Lepage (FRA) Nicholson 32 Laaland
Ertan Beskardes (GBR) Rustler 36 Lazy Otter
Kevin Farebrother (AUS) Tradewind 35 Sagarmatha
Nabil Amra (PAL) Biscay 36 Liberty II
Philippe Péché (FRA) Rustler 36 PRB
Antoine Cousot (FRA) Biscay 36 Métier Intérim
Are Wiig (NOR) OE32 Olleanna
Francesco Cappelletti (ITA) Endurance 35 007

For all information, tracking, sound clouds and more:

Listings Added
Pantaenius Sailing
Jeanneau Sun Fast
Multihull Group