In the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, it is sure to be a birthday that Michelle Porter (37) will never forget. She was evacuated yesterday evening local time from Derry~Londonderry~Doire by the South African National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) off Port Elizabeth and taken to hospital for treatment to a suspected broken arm. There is however a happy ending worth celebrating: X-Rays revealed today that there is no fracture, just torn ligaments and bruising.
'No broken bones, just badly bruised, battered and torn ligaments, but all okay considering what could have happened,' Michelle said from Port Elizabeth South Africa this afternoon. 'It’s certainly a birthday I won't be forgetting anytime soon and for the wrong reasons. I'm now in a bed that doesn't move; today is officially my duvet day!'
It was the second time in 24 hours that the NSRI station at Port Elizabeth launched its rescue vessels to help Clipper Race crews. The previous day David Griffin was taken off Mission Performance with an injured calf which was impaled on a cleat during the same violent storm that rolled Michelle’s boat.
Ian Gray, Station Commander of National Sea Rescue Station 6 in Port Elizabeth said, 'The rescue went very well. We despatched two of our sea rescue craft Spirit of Toft and Eikos Rescuer IV to rendezvous with the Clipper Race yacht. The first vessel rendezvoused with the yacht five miles from the harbour.
'We came alongside to put a crew member on board and the patient was found to be uncomfortable, in some pain, but in good spirits. It happened to be her birthday. We managed to transfer the casualty onto the seven metre rescue boat. From there we were able to transfer her to the larger craft where she’d be more comfortable and then brought her back to the harbour. A Gardmed ambulance transported her to hospital, in a stable condition, for further treatment.'
On arrival Michelle was grateful to the NSRI for getting her safely ashore, but had mixed emotions about her situation. She told her rescuers: 'I feel a bit numb, a bit sick, and also pretty devastated that I’ve had to leave the yacht. I never thought I’d have to step off that boat. I sailed with it from London and I’m pretty gutted that I’m not doing this leg so I hope there’ll be a speedy recovery and I can go and join the guys in Albany.'
It looks like her prayers have been answered but she’ll need a clean bill of health before confirming she can be reunited with her crew in Australia.
Michelle has also been recalling the incident: 'We were hit by a very big wave. We’ve been hit by quite a lot of waves over the last few days but this one was pretty monumental. I was tagged onto the high side by my safety line and just didn’t see the wave coming. The next thing I knew I was clinging onto the rails on the low side. So had it not been for my safety line I would have been straight overboard. It was all a bit chaotic. The boat went over 90 degrees which is not an angle you want to be at.
Michelle coming up on deck to be transferred to the transfer boat before proceeding into the harbor. - Jonathan Levy
'When I got down below decks I realised how bad it was because all the food that had been in lockers was all over the ceiling; it was everywhere. It was carnage – people ended up in positions they shouldn’t be in. There were quite a few minor injuries. The medic had also fallen but she was amazing and looked after me really well for the past 36 hours....and now I’m here.'
The twelve identical British registered 70 foot ocean racing yachts are carrying 240 international amateur crew, each under the command of a professional skipper, on the world’s longest ocean race; it is now 10,000 miles out of London on the 40,000 miles 11 month marathon. This is currently in race 4 of a 16 race series across six continents.
Nearly half the crew are novices before they undertake their extensive pre-race training. The race left Cape Town on 4 November and is expected into Albany, Western Australia towards the end of the month. The unique event ends back in London in July next year
Clipper Round the World
by Julia Wall-Clarke
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8:11 PM Sat 9 Nov 2013GMT
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