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83-year-old sailor dismasted in Cape Horn attempt

by Sail-World Cruising round-up on 6 Jan 2012
Louis Corogin and his yacht TLC, shown in happier times .. .
Chile’s navy this week located a dismasted 32ft yacht TLC with an 83-year-old solo sailor on board about 1800 nautical miles west of Chile and 400 nm south of Easter Island, in fifteen foot swells. The solo sailor, U.S. attorney Louis Corogin was reportedly on his seventh attempt to round Cape Horn. He had left Hanga Roa in Easter Island on 27th December, but activated his EPIRB once dismasted.

With the assistance of AMVER, the organisation that coordinates volunteer ships in times of emergency, the Japanese ship White Kingdom answered the call and Corogin was transferred to the ship, abandoning his yacht. He was later picked up by a Chilean frigate which is taking him to Valparaiso.

Aside from scrapes, bruises and general exhaustion, Thomas Louis Corogin was in good condition, the captain of the Japanese merchant vessel White Kingdom told the navy after pulling the sailor from his boat.

'He was physically wiped out,' said the merchant ship’s captain, R.G. Villamin, according to Capt. Jorge Bastias, a navy spokesman.

The sailboat was traveling in a southeasterly direction toward Puerto Williams, located on Navarino Island and Chile’s southernmost city, when its mast broke.

Corogin runs a small marina in Port Clinton, Ohio. It was not his first mishap on the voyage - he was hospitalised in Equador for an injury to his leg, according to fellow sailor and friend Jack Majszak.

'Tom is the most unique person I've ever met,' Majszak told reporters. He had invited Corogin to lecture to his Modern Sailing School and Club in Sausalito, California, last year after meeting with him in the Panama Canal.

Majszak described Corogin as an experienced sailor. 'He should be fine, it's a very stable boat,' Majszak said. 'The 15-foot swells shouldn't be too bad as long as they don't come too quickly. If he battens up the hatches and goes down below the boat will bob like a cork and he should be fine. As long as he's not seriously hurt, that's the key.'

Rex Damschroder, a sailor and state lawmaker from Ohio considers Corogin a sailing mentor as well as a friend, said it had always been Corogin's dream to sail around Cape Horn.

'I've sailed and spent a lot of time with Tom, he knows what he's doing,' said Damschroder, who added that some of his own equipment is on Corogin's boat, including an anchor and life raft. 'It's risky for anyone of any age. I'd take him over any 20-year-old sailing.'

Corogin is due to arrive in Valparaiso probably on Saturday.
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