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Old 12-13-2007, 08:19 PM   #1
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THE 22[sup]ND[/sup] ARC IS MARRED BY TRAGEDY



Press release



The Directors of World Cruising Club express their deep sorrow at the death of John Thompson, 54, the skipper of the yacht Avocet that was participating in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC 2007).

John Thompson, a lawyer from Bangor, Northern Ireland, sustained serious head injuries in an accident onboard his yacht late on Friday 7 December 2007.

The incident occurred mid-Atlantic whilst the yacht was at position 15˚28N 43˚59W, 980 nautical miles East of St.Lucia and 1090 nautical miles West of the Cape Verde Islands, well beyond the range of any land based assistance.

The Maritime Rescue Control Centre (MRCC) in Martinique diverted a cruise ship, the Costa Mediterranea, to attend the scene and at first light on Saturday 8 December John was transferred onto the ship. His son Daniel who had been sailing with him accompanied his father. Early on Monday morning (10 December) John was transferred ashore once the ship reached Barbados, where he received immediate hospital treatment.

Regrettably, John did not recover from his serious injuries whilst in hospital, and died late today (Thursday 13 December); his family were with him at the time.

Andrew Bishop, Managing Director of the event organisers, World Cruising Club, commented:

"We are all deeply saddened by the news of John's death in this tragic sailing accident and send our condolences and prayers to his family. Despite this being such a difficult time for them, I know that they take some comfort from the fact that John died participating in the sport he loved. Our thoughts and those of all his fellow ARC sailors are with his wife Tina, son Dan and family today."

The yacht Avocet, with 4 remaining crew, all of whom are very experienced, has continued on to St.Lucia, with an expected arrival date of Friday 14 December.
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Old 12-13-2007, 09:20 PM   #2
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My sympathies are with his family. How sad.

One of my greatest fears was always the possibility of an accidental gybe catching one of us in the head. I wonder what percentage of critical and/or fatal accidents on board racing yachts not caused by severe weather are due to the boom hitting a crew member in the head. The last fatal accident I remember in a race was during a Newport to Bermuda race several years ago where the owner-skipper was hit in the head by the boom.

Be careful out there.
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Old 12-14-2007, 11:48 PM   #3
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My sympathies are with his family. How sad.

One of my greatest fears was always the possibility of an accidental gybe catching one of us in the head. I wonder what percentage of critical and/or fatal accidents on board racing yachts not caused by severe weather are due to the boom hitting a crew member in the head. The last fatal accident I remember in a race was during a Newport to Bermuda race several years ago where the owner-skipper was hit in the head by the boom.

Be careful out there.
Assuming a boom got him, I wonder what actual decrease in speed results from raising the boom so it goes over the average head....Hard to believe that extra foot or so of depth on a sail is worth a life, not to mention the countless beanings that take place every year. Seems silly but somehow it remains the standard.

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Old 12-15-2007, 12:07 AM   #4
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Tragic, indeed.

Seems that people die every year in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers.

We sailed (but not participating) with the ARC fleet from the Canaries to the Caribbean in 2001. There must have been 500 yachts bunched all together out there at the same time... yet we only spotted three other vessels during our 21 day passage.

I suppose the ARC is a great motivation to drum-up the courage to sail across an ocean... but it costs buckets of money to participate... and you don't even get a tee-shirt!

Somebody is making a ship-load of money by selling a false sense of security... in my opinion.

To Life!

Kirk
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Old 12-22-2007, 08:11 PM   #5
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(Press release)

ARC 2007 NEWS

22 December 2007

THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF ARC 2007

Can there really be an "average Atlantic Rally for Cruisers"? Probably not if ARC 2007 is anything to go by. Average weather depends on how far north or south of the rhumb line a yacht has stayed and how far ahead or behind the main body of the fleet it has sailed. Average breakages certainly come down to an individual level; some yachts having a smooth crossing with hardly a hitch, whilst others have battled rig failures, engine problems, broken sails and booms.

Not withstanding averages, ARC 2007 has definitely been an event with many highs and lows for all concerned. Amongst the many memorable high points has been the overwhelming excitement and sense of achievement at getting a small boat across 2,800 nautical miles of open ocean. For most it is the culmination of months, and sometimes years of planning, and for some the ARC is the completion of a once-in-a-lifetime voyage.

The big yachts that can eat through the miles may bask in the glory of being the first to arrive into St. Lucia's Rodney Bay after 11 or 12 days, but the true spirit of the ARC is surely reflected in the achievements of the smaller boats, such as Westerly Berwick Wagtail (9.40m) and the Nordic Folkboat Ariel (7.64m), that crossed in 23 days and 21 days respectively.

Tragedy affects everyone

ARC 2007 was also marred by tragedy following the death of one skipper , John Thompson, skipper of the yacht Avocet, who never recovered consciousness following a severe head injury onboard. There were several other significant injuries during the crossing from the Canary Islands.

A female crew member on the Volvo 60 AAG Big One, Alla Byazina, was evacuated from the yacht after sustaining very serious burns to her legs. Following a 10-day stay in hospital in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Alla has now returned home to Russia and doctors are confident she will make a full recovery.

The winds and waves were also responsible for injuries suffered by Andreas Bienz, the Swiss skipper of Tai Shan, a Beneteau First 50, who endured an uncomfortable week lying in his bunk after a fall in the cockpit which broke several of his ribs.

ARC yachts to the rescue

The strength of the ARC has always been the ability of yachts to communicate and co-ordinate help for each other, but on two occasions this year the ARC Net helped to rescue crew from non-ARC yachts that were reported in difficulties. Two crew from Barbary Duck were evacuated onto ARC yacht GiGi (GBR) and three crew from Spam were rescued by the Irish ARC yacht Navillus.

Whilst the rescued yachtsmen and women were safely landed in St. Lucia, the Spanish Navy took responsibility for the migrants found at sea in an open boat by the British-registered ARC yachts Tallulah and If Only. With many migrants setting out on the perilous journey from the African coast towards the Canary Islands, ARC skippers had been briefed on what action to take, so were able to summon help for the desperate crews.

Take That! The weather threw everything at crews

For many participants it is the weather that will be the lasting memory of ARC 2007 and this has been far from average for some yachts. For three days and nights, during the middle of the crossing, the core of the fleet had to sail through an area of concentrated thunderstorm cells and squalls, which lashed some unlucky crews with winds of 40 knots plus, pushing up big Atlantic waves and making for some very uncomfortable sailing.

Experienced Atlantic yachtsman, Mark Ashman, skipper of Persuader Too, commented, "I have done this crossing many times and this is the first time I have worn foul weather clothing in this direction. We should be in shorts and T-shirts day and night".

Rather more poetically, Brian Crosston of Cat-Man-Do described the fun side of the extreme weather: "Torrential rain and with a sail the size of a Supermodel's knickers we surfed to a new record of 21.7 knots! We were all screaming with excitement like a bunch of schoolgirls at a 'Take That' concert!"

Occasionally the weather did as was expected, providing those perfect trade wind days that sailors dream of, even if the crossing as a whole was a reminder that the Atlantic is no "milk run" and the Ocean should always command our respect.

Sue Allison from Hanse 461 Swagman, summed up the feelings of many after her arrival in St.Lucia. "It has been a trip we have been planning for so long. The sailing has been spectacular for the most part, except the times when there has been no wind, and I've been energised, excited and nervous in turn. Would I do it again? Absolutely yes!"

So ARC 2007 is over, crews having attended the Official Prizegiving last night (21 December) to celebrate the achievements of the whole fleet. Many are off to explore the Caribbean and enjoy a tropical Christmas.

- ENDS-
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Old 12-26-2007, 04:17 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Gallivanters View Post
Tragic, indeed.

Seems that people die every year in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers.

We sailed (but not participating) with the ARC fleet from the Canaries to the Caribbean in 2001. There must have been 500 yachts bunched all together out there at the same time... yet we only spotted three other vessels during our 21 day passage.

I suppose the ARC is a great motivation to drum-up the courage to sail across an ocean... but it costs buckets of money to participate... and you don't even get a tee-shirt!

Somebody is making a ship-load of money by selling a false sense of security... in my opinion.

To Life!

Kirk
Hi Kirk,

With respect for your own views, the ARC event does not only offer a sense of security, but facts from this and previous years shows it does actually provide one.

The two serious issues, with Johns injury plus the girl scalded by boiling water when a Volvo 60 broached, were handled promptly and efficiently by the ARC mob liasing with MRCC and mobilising commercial ships to pick up the injured. Plus at least two other non-ARC yachts who ran into difficulty and were rescued by ARC participants, plus one who had to handle being boarded by illegal African immigrants en-route. The shoreside and water based back up provided by the ARC and its participants all adds up to the event being more, rather than less valuable.

I'm sorry to say, IMHO its a bit of a cheap comment to infer one needs the ARC to 'drum up the courage to sail across and ocean'. Many newbie sailors do join in for the security it does provide, but many more join for the parties, the comms coverage, the racing environment it creates. And if you are not aware - you do actually get a T shirt.

So I'm pleased the organisers do make money - for if they did not then they would not run it. And were that not the case, hundreds of ARC and non ARC participants would loose out.

All of course, IMHO.

Cheers

JOHN
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Old 12-27-2007, 08:02 AM   #7
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Any loss of life at sea is a tradgedy. Of that there is no doubt.

Regarding ARCs though I am a little split in my opinions. I will not comment on cost or T-shirts. That is for each participant to judge if it is worthwhile or not. What I will remind everyone of is the fact that the responsibility for rescue at sea does not in any respect fall at the feet of the ARC committee, no matter how helpfull they are or are not. The responsibility for maritime SAR (Search And Rescue) is divided between the rescue coordinator at the responsible MRCC and the masters of the vessels or aircraft taking part in the search and rescue. Every ship master is required to lend what assisstance can be offered to those in distress at sea short of putting his or her own vessel, crew and passangers in peril. It is, in legal terms, as simple as that. There is no requirement to attempt to save a vessel, although that often is the easiest way to save the crew too if it is possible.

I feel that some crews participate in the ARCs under a false sense of security and one which is hardly needed on the specific route which is a good weather run as a rule. This does encourage the lesser prepared to cross the Atlantic which is unfortunate because the reality of the situation is that once out there, you are on your own.

On the other hand, there are those who see the ARC as a happening and enjoy every minute of it. I think the bottom line is that one should not put too much faith in the ARC as a safety feature but regard it as a social event

Aye // Stephen
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Old 12-27-2007, 09:48 AM   #8
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Agreed.

Happy New Year to you and yours.

JOHN
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