Golden Globe: The 50 hour nightmare
Published on December 8th, 2018
(December 8, 2018; Day 161) – The crew of the Hong Kong registered cargo ship MV Tian Fu successfully rescued the distressed Golden Globe Race skipper Susie Goodall yesterday, some 2,000 miles west of Cape Horn after a tense operation to get her 36ft yacht DHL Starlight alongside the 38,000 ton general cargo vessel. The first news that the British yachtswoman was safe onboard came with a text message:
07 Dec 15:14 UTC: ON THE SHIP!!! Position: 45′ 10.711 S 121′ 40.157 W
The ship is now bound for Punta Arenas, Chile and expected to reach port on December 14.
The storm that caught Susie Goodall’s yacht DHL Starlight in its grip, generating 60 knot winds and 7-10 metre seas.
Goodall (29) from Falmouth UK was the sole women and youngest skipper competing in the Golden Globe solo non-stop round the world race, which started from La Sables d’Olonne, France on July 1. One of 17 starters, she was lying in 4th place and challenging for a podium finish when her 36ft yacht was pitch poled and dismasted during a ferocious storm.
Sheltering below at the time, she was thrown across the cabin and knocked unconscious. Only when she came to, did she fully realize the situation.
Her boat, a rugged Rustler 36 production yacht heavily modified for the Race, was wrecked and inside flooded and totally trashed with the contents of lockers and draws strewn across the cabin. On deck, DHL Starlight’s rig and two spinnaker poles that she had planned to utilize as a jury rig in the event of a dismasting, had been swept away.
The first the world knew of her situation was December 5 at 10:30 UTC when HM Coastguard’s MCC (Mission Control Centre) in Fareham UK picked up an EPIRB distress alert from the yacht, starting a tense 50 hour international rescue operation involving British and Chilean rescue authorities and an all-ships alert.
Goodall’s nearest competitor, Estonian sailor Uku Randmaa sailing an identical yacht to DHL Starlight, was 400 miles ahead and about to face the same storm, so could not turn back. American/Hungarian sailor Istvan Kopar was 780 miles behind and not expected to reach her position for another 6 days.
The first communication from Goodall to the GGR Race HQ in Les Sables d’Olonne warning of the fierce conditions came in the form of a text message
05 Dec 08:29 UTC: TAKING A HAMMERING! WONDERING WHAT ON EARTH I’M DOING OUT HERE Position: 45′ 33.054 S 122′ 37.061 W
05 Dec 12:33 UTC; DISMASTED. HULL OK. NO FORM OF JURY RIG, TOTAL LOSS
05 Dec 12:57 UTC: INTERIOR TOTAL WRECK, LIFERAFT OK,
05 Dec 13:23 UTC: NASTY HEAD BANG AS BOAT PITCHPOLED. UNBELIEVABLY ROLY NOW
05 Dec 13:24 UTC: TOTALLY & UTTERLY GUTTED!
05 Dec 23:04 UTC: THIS MOTION IS JUST HORRIBLE! CLINGING ON IN MY BUNK.
Goodall’s first broadcast via satellite phone to Don McIntyre, the GGR Race Chairman was charged with emotion but it was clear that this vastly experienced sailor was in control of the situation. She reported:
“I have been dismasted. Thought I had holed the hull because the boat filled with water, but the hull is NOT holed. The hull is OK.
“The boat is destroyed. I can’t make up a jury rig. The only thing left is the hull and deck which remain intact. We were pitchpoled [rolled end over end] and I was thrown across the cabin and knocked out for a while.”
She also confirmed that she had secured all hatches, portholes and safety equipment, and did NOT need immediate assistance.
She said that before the incident, she had been enjoying the conditions and felt in control. But then the safety tube on her Monitor windvane self-steering broke and she was forced to trail a drogue anchor astern and take down the mainsail. She was below decks when the boat was pitchpoled, and when she returned on deck to assess the damage, found that the line attached to the drogue had parted.
Goodall also reported that she “has been beaten up and badly bruised” with cuts and scratches and a big bump on her head. MSOS, the GGR’s 24 hour medical tele-centre, was advised and doctors provided direct medical advice and monitored her symptoms.
The first ship to answer the Chilean Coastguard alert was the bulk carrier MV Talimen 480 miles south west of Goodall’s position, which diverted course, but later the 38,000 ton Hong Kong registered cargo ship MV Tian Fu, 80 miles closer, was tasked with the making the rescue.
By now conditions had begun to improve as the storm continued its easterly course, and buoyed by the news, Goodall’s sense of humor returned
06 Dec 02:51 UTC: IN NEED OF A GOOD CUPPA TEA! BUT SADLY NO COOKER
She worked to get the flooded engine to start and prepared herself to be taken off the yacht. The plan was for her to motor DHL Starlight up against the lee side of the ship, grab the hook from a deck crane and get lifted up by her life harness. But the first attempt failed when her engine stopped just as she was about to maneuver her boat into position.
Exact details of the evacuation remain sketchy, but news that the 50 hour intense vigil had come to a safe conclusion came with the text message:
07 Dec 15:14 UTC: ON THE SHIP!!!
She later sent a photograph of her being hoisted aboard the ship on the end of the crane.
The MV ‘Tian Fu is now continuing its voyage but making a transit stop off Punta Arenas, Chile on December 14 where Susie will be transferred ashore to be met on the dockside by The British Consul John Rees.
With Goodall’s rescue, there are now 7 of the original 17 starters that remain in the race.
The 2018 Golden Globe Race started for 17 skippers from Les Sables d’Olonne on Sunday July 1, 2018, with the inaugural solo non-stop around the world yacht race expected to take 9-10 months to complete.
The event marks the 50th anniversary of the Sunday Times Golden Globe solo non-stop round the world race in 1968-69 when rules then allowed competitors to start from ports in northern France or UK between June 1st and October 31st.
A notable twist to the 2018 Golden Globe Race format is how entrants are restricted to using the same type of yachts and equipment that were available in that first race, with the premise being to keep the race within financial reach of every dreamer.
The rules allow for one breach of the strict solo, non-stop un-assisted circumnavigation without the aid of modern electronic navigation aids regulations that make this Race unique. However, those that do move down to the Chichester Class as if, like Sir Francis Chichester in 1966-67, they have made one stop during their solo circumnavigation.
Those who breach the rules for a second time are deemed to have retired from the GGR Event and the organisers have no responsibility or obligation to them.