Atlantic Rally Day of Drama

Saved Migrants, photo by Santiago Ferrero
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On Day Four of ARC 2007, event organisers World Cruising Club’s well rehearsed emergency plan was called into action following a serious accident onboard the Russian crewed Volvo 60 – AAG Big One.

Crew member Alla Byazina, suffered extensive scolding in a gallery accident that occurred during a gybe, in the fast trade wind conditions. After assessing the situation, World Cruising Club contacted MRCC Falmouth, UK, who were able to relay medical advice to the yacht. The on-call doctor decided that an evacuation was required as Ms Byazina would best be treated in hospital.

In difficult sailing conditions, having to make upwind into 20 knot trade winds and 3m swells, the racing yacht met with a cargo ship – the MV Goodrich Bay – early this morning, which had been diverted to assist by MRCC Falmouth. At 10:45UTC today, the tricky transfer was completed and the ship assumed course for the Spanish Island of La Palma with the casualty onboard.

AAG Big One had been leading the ARC fleet and the crew were keen to try and break the ARC course record of just over 11days and 5 hours. The yacht has now resumed racing, although their hopes of a record breaking run are now dashed.

In a further incident, two ARC yachts assisted with the rescue of migrants they encountered late yesterday (29/11/07). Yacht Tallulah had already notified MRCC Tenerife of the location of the migrants, when two crew from the migrant vessel boarded the yacht If Only, as the yacht’s crew attempted to assist them.

The Spanish Navy operate constant intervention patrols in the waters between the Canary Islands and West Africa, and were notified of the situation. Both yachts had to remain on station all night to await the arrival on an intervention craft. At first light this morning, a maritime patrol aircraft was dispatched to co-ordinate, and by mid-morning the Intervention Patrol was on station and able to evacuate the migrants to safety. Both ARC yachts have now resumed course to St. Lucia.

These two incidents demonstrate the effectiveness of the ARC Communications Net, with all ARC yachts informed of the situations and able to assist as required. However, for most yachts, ARC 2007 has to date been a classic trade wind crossing. Winds have been consistent, although a little lighter than earlier in the week and many crews have reported sunshine sailing with good average daily runs. Of the 235 yachts due to start with ARC 2007, three remain in Gran Canaria with technical problems but are expected to start this weekend.

For more information on the plight of migrants sailing the the Canary Islands, visit: