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Clipper Race medical evacuation

Sep 18, 2007 The Clipper 07-08 Race has 10 identical boats, each sponsored by a city or country, sailing a seven-legged race around the world. The race started on Sept. 16 and immediately had some drama when an injured crewmember had to be removed from the Jamaican boat by the British RNLI lifeboat service.

From the race web site: At 0420 GMT on Tuesday an injured crew member was successfully transferred from Jamaica by the Penlee RNLI lifeboat in Mounts Bay, Cornwall in the south west of England. The 40-year-old male crew member sustained neck and chest injuries on Monday evening after the yacht crash gybed during Race 1 from Liverpool to La Rochelle.

The crew member’s condition had improved during the passage to Mounts Bay, and he was able to walk off the boat assisted by lifeboat crew at Newlyn. He has been transferred to the Royal Cornwall Hospital by ambulance where he is now being assessed.

Ivan Ellen, the Penlee Severn class offshore lifeboat with five RNLI volunteer crew members onboard launched at 0400 GMT to assist Jamaica, and the transfer was carried out successfully in just ten minutes at a position two miles south of Tater-Du lighthouse.

Overnight a Royal Navy helicopter from RNAS Culdrose had attempted to carry out a transfer of the casualty approximately 40 miles north northwest of Land’s End but was unable to complete it due to the rough sea state and high winds. Falmouth Coastguard, coordinating the rescue, advised Jamaica Skipper Simon Bradley to make his way towards Mounts Bay where the transfer could be carried out in calmer waters.

With a fully-qualified doctor amongst the 12 crew onboard Jamaica, the injured crew member had received medical care overnight. The onboard medic linked up via satellite telephone to doctors at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, in Portsmouth, UK during the night for advice.

A spokesman for the Penlee lifeboat said: ‘The transfer itself only took ten minutes and the injured crewman has now been transferred by ambulance to hospital. We were able to get right alongside and he managed to walk across onto the lifeboat with the help the lifeboat crew.’

Simon has informed the Race Director of his intention to retire from Race 1 and will make best speed to La Rochelle, where he and his crew will prepare for Race 2 from La Rochelle to Salvador in Brazil.

Skipper Simon Bradley stated that a 35-year-old male crew member sustained a minor rope burn during the aborted helicopter transfer, but confirmed that all his crew is safe and well.

Simon said: ‘Although it was a scary situation, the crew responded well and I am very proud of them. Now they are keen to get to La Rochelle and prepare for the next race. I’d like to pass on the sincere thanks from all the crew of Jamaica to Falmouth Coastguard and the volunteer crew of the RNLI Penlee lifeboat who do such valuable work.’

The crew of Jamaica has been raising funds for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in the run up to the race, and has organised a fleet wide Immersion Suit Challenge in each of the 15 ports around the world. Under the rules of the Challenge a member of each of the ten teams makes a donation to the RNLI in order to compete.  The fastest to remove a suit from its bag, put it on, take it off and put it back in its bag is deemed the winner. The overall team winner will be announced at the end of the race next July.

When Jamaica and the other nine yachts racing in Clipper 07-08 Round the World Yacht Race leave La Rochelle on Sunday, they will be racing hot on the heels of the 84-strong Mini Transat fleet that is due to depart from La Rochelle at 1030 GMT today. The start of the 16th Mini Transat has been postponed since Sunday 16 September due to high winds. Both fleets will be heading for Salvador, Brazil.


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