French solo yachtsman Loïc Lepage was successfully transferred from his dismasted yacht Laaland by the Japanese bulk carrier Shiosai at 00:53 UTC Monday.
The rescue, which took place in the South Indian Ocean some 670 miles SW of Perth, commenced shortly after first light once the Australian P-8A search and rescue plane was overhead. Members of the Shiosai crew were lowered down in the ship’s recovery vessel, and though the rolling swell presented a few challenges, Lepage was plucked from his yacht and successfully transferred to the ship.
Francis Tolan, skipper of the S/V Alizes II, a Beneteau Ocean 43 competing in the Long Route solo circumnavigation who also came to the aid of Lepage, was released from search and rescue tasking and sincerely thanked by both the Golden Globe Race Organisers and the Australian Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Canberra, which oversaw the operation.
In a message to Alizes II , JRCC said: “Your efforts and endeavours to provide a fellow mariner with requested assistance in challenging conditions are in keeping with the greatest traditions of a mariner at sea. Well done and thank you.”
Don McIntyre, Chairman of the GGR, added: “Everyone at the Golden Globe Race have complete admiration and the utmost respect for all involved with the successful rescue of Loïc. The professionalism, expertise and passion displayed at all levels is truly amazing. You are all a great asset to Australia and mariners everywhere.”
The 176,827 Ton Japanese bulk carrier Shiosai has now resumed her course with Loïc Lepage aboard, bound for Las Palmas, Argentina and is scheduled to dock there on 22nd November.
The tracking signal for Lepage's yacht Laaland ceased at 06:30 UTC today and is assumed to have been scuttled.
Lepage was sailing the Chichester Class within the GGR, having stopped in Cape Town to make repairs and replenish supplies. Eight of the original 18 starters remain in the GGR solo non-stop challenge.