Guo Chuan (Photo by Jean-Sebastien-Evrard/AFP/Getty Images
China was in shock on Thursday after a search was called off for a hugely popular sailor who went missing as he attempted to break the world record for a solo trans-Pacific voyage.
Guo Chuan’s trimaran was spotted about 600 miles (1,000km) off the Hawaiian island of Oahu after he was reported missing on Tuesday.
But after finding only his lifejacket onboard, the US Coast Guard called off their search late on Wednesday.
Chinese state news agency Xinhua said on Thursday that “millions of his compatriots are praying for his safe return”, and officially Mr Guo remains “missing”.
But the man who led the search for the 51-year-old appeared to have given up hope.
“Our deepest condolences go out not only to his family and friends but also to his racing team and the sailing community,” Captain Robert Hendrickson said.
Mr Guo set sail from under San Francisco’s Golden Great Bridge on October 18 on his 97-foot sailboat, which is called ‘Qingdao China’, after his home city on the country’s east coast.
He was hoping to complete the 7,000 nautical mile-journey to Shanghai in 20 days.
Mr Guo was an experienced sailor, becoming the first of his countrymen to take part in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race in 2006, and also the first Chinese to traverse the Atlantic Ocean by himself.
He became the first Chinese sailor to solo nonstop circumnavigate the globe in 2013, when he also broke the record for doing it in a 40-foot yacht.
Mr Guo was greatly admired in China for his love of his country and his family.
He dedicated his record-breaking achievement to his late father, and in one of his most recent reports from his voyage he spoke of how he listened to recordings of his young son laughing. He called it “the most beautiful song in the world”.
Zhai Feng, a close friend of Mr Guo and a fellow sailor, said: “I have been in shock since I heard this news.
“We know that falling into the water is certain death. If you cannot climb onto the boat within half-an-hour, you will surely be dead.
“My wife cried floods of tears when we learnt the news, and we are both praying for him.”
What happened to Guo remained unclear.
Guo’s team said they had observed his speed slowed on Tuesday and attempted to contact him, but he did not answer either satellite calls or internet communication.
The US searchers had found a broken sail in the water, they added.
The US Coast Guard said it was called when Guo’s team had not received notification from him for 24 hours.
The sailor had previously been “in constant contact” with his shore team and family and was “not likely to miss scheduled calls”, it added.
Chinese fans expressed fears for the mariner, with one writing that it was “likely he was adjusting or repairing the sail when he was struck or an accident occurred and he fell”.
Others urged rescuers to continue the search.
“Absolutely do not stop the search and rescue! It’s only 24 hours, the water is warm enough, Guo Chuan’s physical abilities are fine, if money’s an issue the shore team must immediately open a donation account… You can’t give up!”
But a tone of mourning and tribute also appeared, with one writing that sailors, like mountain climbers, embraced challenge to access a vast perspective, with “captains’ hearts always facing the sea”.
Derry~Londonderry~Doire Race 4 Start ( Photo courtesy of the Clipper Race)
Derry~Londonderry~Doire is diverting to Hobart in Tasmania for a medevac of an injured crewman as a precautionary measure.
Skipper Daniel Smith contacted the Race Office at 1030 AEDT today (2330 UTC Tuesday 8 December) to report that round-the-world crew member Michael Gaskin, 54, from the West Midlands, UK, had sustained suspected broken ribs after he fell by the helming position when a wave broke over the back of the yacht in rough seas and 35 knots wind, approximately 130 nautical miles to the southwest of Tasmania.
Team Medics Ali Boeree and Jan Chatzis administered first aid while the Skipper contacted ClipperTelemed+, the Clipper Race remote telemedicine service. Doctors at the Praxes operations centre in Halifax, Canada, confirmed diagnosis and directed the provision of pain relief and anti-nausea medication.
Due to the proximity of Hobart and the rough conditions, the Skipper has decided to divert as a precaution so that Michael can be treated ashore. The team will continue the race to Sydney once Michael has been transferred to hospital.
“The Skipper reports that Mike is in a stable condition and is receiving pain relief,” explained Race Director Justin Taylor. “The conditions were quite challenging at the time. Mike was clipped on behind the high side helm. The low side helm took over to allow Mike to step in. A breaking wave broke over the side of cockpit and Mike says he hit the pushpit and heard his ribs crunch. He was then washed into the A frame and sustained a small cut to his head. He was stopped by his safety tether. This was the first breaking wave into the boat the team had experienced, although they had a lot of spray.”
Water breaking over the deck is very powerful. A cubic metre of water weighs a metric tonne.
This is the first medevac of the Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race, the tenth edition of the biennial global series, the world’s longest ocean race at more than 40,000 miles, taking 11 months to race between six continents. Only a handful of the 3300 amateur sailors who have participated over the last 19 years have had to be evacuated, the majority as a precaution following medical treatment aboard.
Michael’s next of kin has been informed. Everyone else aboard is safe and well.
Michael is an experienced yachtsman, holding a Day Skipper qualification and had previously sailed around Scotland, the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean.
The yacht is estimated to reach Hobart around 1000 AEDT tomorrow (Thursday) morning 10 December (2300 UTC 9 December).
Derry~Londonderry~Doire crew in Albany (Photo courtesy of the Clipper Race)
Close competitive racing in the first leg of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race from London to Rio has been overshadowed this week by the death of a crew member in what appears to be a tragic accident.
Having safely navigated the Bay of Biscay, increasing wind speeds propelled the fleet along the Portuguese coast. But as the team aboard IchorCoal put in a reef to reduce sail area one of the crew was knocked unconscious and failed to recover despite immediate medical assistance and expert remote guidance.
Andy Ashman, a paramedic from South East London was an experienced sailor and described as being typical of the ‘Corinthian’ Clipper Race spirit. He was an inspiration to the rest of his team of amateur sailors from all walks of life.
This was the first fatality in the 19-year history of the race which has trained over 3300 people to participate safely in nine previous editions of the biennial global event.
The news of the incident was received soberly across the fleet and tributes were paid by many who had trained alongside Andrew.
Messages of support from his family and friends encouraged the team to continue as it is ‘what Andy would have wanted’.
While the team aboard IchorCoal went ashore at Porto, in northern Portugal, the Clipper Race fleet paid their respects, flew their Red Ensigns at half mast, and raced on as the most fitting tribute.
At the front of the fleet the duel continued between GREAT Britain and LMAX Exchange. But the two have now split with LMAX Exchange taking a clear lead of more than 160 nautical miles closer to the finish in Rio after taking better winds further east, racing through the Canary Islands and then close to the West Saharan coast.
The leaderboard has seen some considerable changes over the last 24 hours, as the teams made their tactical decisions on whether to pass between the Canary Islands and take more of an inshore route, or leave them to port.
Get it wrong and you are caught in the wind shadow of the huge volcanic mountains that extend for more than 100 miles out to sea, creating a major headache as the Skippers seek out the more steady Trade Winds.
The Northern Irish entry Derry~Londonderry~Doire is neck-and-neck with GREAT Britain further west, but they could be overtaken by Qingdao and Garmin hoping to copy the LMAX Exchange manoeuvre through the Canaries.
Derry~Londonderry~Doire led the race for a time on Tuesday. Skipper Daniel Smith explained: “The day was spent gybing down a narrow band of wind trying to keep the boat moving and achieve the best speeds downwind. By 1800UTC we got the result we were looking for. For the first time since leaving the Thames we were back in first place.
“This was a great achievement from the crew despite them knowing it probably wouldn’t last for long. LMAX Exchange has put itself further east, and was approaching a band of stronger steadier winds. Our plan of squeezing through west of Madeira hadn’t worked out as well as we’d hoped due to the wind strength decreasing.
“We are continuing to fight our way south into what should be an ever-increasing wind, keeping an eye on the positions of more easterly yachts and hoping that they don’t all manage to slot in in front of us.”
The fleet is spread over some 500 nautical miles with around 4000 nautical miles of racing still ahead of it.
In Porto the team of IchorCoal was met by Clipper Race officials led by founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.
After time to reflect they came to the unanimous joint decision to continue racing and return to sea as soon as possible.
Andrew’s brother Keith Ashman flew out to reinforce the family’s support for the team’s decision and waved them off as they headed out to resume racing.
On the broad transom at the stern of their 70-foot ocean racing yacht the team wrote “For Andy. Roger that!” One of Andy’s favourite responses.
The team has been awarded redress for the incident to compensate the time lost. The Race Committee has decided to award a time redress of 81 hours and 1 minute to IchorCoal. This is calculated on the time from the accident until the yacht commenced racing of 85 hours and 52 minutes, less the time the yacht gained by re-starting 41.2 miles further along the race course, which, at their average speed at the time of the accident of 8.7 knots, is 4 hours and 51 minutes.
This 81 hours and 1 minute will be deducted from IchorCoal’s finishing time in Rio de Janeiro to give the team’s overall position on Race 1.
As a lasting tribute the Atlantic Ocean Sprint, a short section of the race track off the Brazilian coast where extra points are awarded for the fastest team between two points, will be named in Andy’s honour. The fastest team will receive a special trophy, the ‘Andy Ashman Memorial Plate’ in Rio and it will continue to be awarded in future editions of the Clipper Race.
As at 1400 UTC (1500 UK/BST) the fleet positions were as follows:
1 LMAX Exchange – 3542 nM to finish
2 GREAT Britain
6 Da Nang – Viet Nam
9 PSP Logistics
10 Visit Seattle
11 + Mission Performance
Hundreds of amateur sailors assembled in Portsmouth Guildhall today to discover which team and professional skipper they will be sailing with later this year in the world’s longest ocean race. They will be competing in the tenth edition of the biennial Clipper Round the World Yacht Race which departs from London on 30 August.
Clipper Race crew, who will spend up to eleven months traversing the world’s most challenging oceans, came to Portsmouth from all over the world, including North America, China, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Mexico and across Europe, together with a strong contingent from across the UK.
The twelve teams were addressed by legendary yachtsman, Clipper Race founder and Chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, with encouraging words about the challenge and adventure that lies ahead. He commented afterwards: “This is where final preparations for the race of their lives begins. Most of the crew have almost completed their training but now they can start to develop their strategies and dynamics as a team.”
The global appeal of the Clipper Race continues to grow, with crew joining the 2015-16 edition from Lebanon, Latvia and Colombia for the first time. Lebanese crew member Moussa Tawil flew into the UK via Doha and Istanbul to find out who he would be sharing his round-the-world adventure with: “I’m super excited about the whole thing. Today is quite significant as I’m sharing thoughts on tactics and finding out more about what role I’d like to play on board.
“I see this as an opportunity to test myself and think I’ll manage well. I’d like to be part of a really fun crew. When I first signed up I didn’t think much about winning, but the training has made me think more about what needs to be done to win this race.”
The Clipper Race is a unique event; it is the only ocean race to give amateur sailors the opportunity to sail around the world and at 40,000 miles it’s the longest around the planet. Many are complete novices before embarking on their extensive training and over 600 international crew will sail one or more of eight legs around the world, with around a quarter achieving the ultimate sailing experience of a full circumnavigation.
Sir Robin added: “It is important to remember that Mother Nature does not make allowances and the more the crew learn about seamanship, the safer they will be and the more they will enjoy the adventure. Over the next year they will all gain more experience and mileage in their log books than the average sailor gets in years. It will be fantastic at times, frustrating at others, but overall it will be a life fulfilling experience they will never forget.”
For the first time there will be two female skippers in the race, Wendy Tuck from Australia and Diane Reid from Canada. There will also be the first French skipper, Olivier Cardin and the first Ukrainian-German skipper, Igor Gotlibovych. At 27 years old, Igor is the youngest of this edition’s skippers and his team will represent the Chinese Olympic sailing city of Qingdao.
Igor says: “I feel very proud to be representing Qingdao. I was born in Ukraine, grew up in Germany and have lived in England for the last eight years, so there are many places that I can call home and now I can add Qingdao to that list.
“I am thrilled to finally be allocated my crew. I have met some of them during their Clipper Race training but of course we did not know we would be racing around the world together in the same team. We are a cosmopolitan bunch with people from all over the world who are very excited to get to know each other and to building on Qingdao’s legacy in competitive sailing.”
The crew come from vastly different backgrounds and professions but all have a thirst for adventure. The Clipper Race is regarded as one of the hardest endurance challenges on the ocean and races between six continents over eleven months. The organisers provide twelve identically matched 70-foot yachts, that made their debut to the race in 2013, and each team is allocated to avoid any one crew having an unfair advantage. It is ultimately down to how each team develops and how well they sail that will ultimately determine the winner of the Clipper Race Trophy with maximum points at the end of the race. Each team will represent a destination, organisation or brand.
Followers of the Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race can look forward to some exciting and exhilarating racing. The departure ceremony takes place in London on Sunday 30 August.
The Clipper Race fleet will now arrive in Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland from 23-24 June.
The synoptic situation is very complicated for the fleet, currently in the middle of four different weather systems of weak pressure gradients and light winds that need to be negotiated.
Amidst the changeable conditions, this kind of weather is very hard to predict meaning that a lot of the current tactical play is gut instinct combined with guesswork to try and cross the ridge.
There is also a blocking high pressure system sitting just west of Ireland that remains in place and will cause the fleet a significant detour either north or east.
Current leader Jamaica Get All Right, who has came out of Stealth Mode still in first position, has headed further north with a north/south divide starting to occur amongst the fleet as the boats try and get in the best position to deal with the difficult conditions.
Jan Ridd, skipper of Team Garmin, currently in sixth, said: “The next few days will be very interesting in this race as we see the different boats’ tactics as we all leave one weather system and face decisions of the best course to follow as we will no longer be able to sail directly towards the finish. Already you can see boats taking different courses, trying to be in the best position when the wind shifts.”
Matt Mitchell, skipper of Mission Performance, in tenth, added: “Our easterly course saw us plummet down the leaderboard which coupled with not going very far over the last few hours is slightly depressing, though the whole fleet should have light airs to contend with at some time or another over the next 24 hours.”
The Clipper Race fleet will now arrive in Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland from 23-24 June.
The Clipper Race fleet will now arrive in Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland from 23-24 June.
Due tofour differentweather systemsaffecting the fleet in the 2850 mile transatlantic crossing, the current leader Jamaica Get All Right, if it maintains an average speed of 7 knots, is expected to arrive in Derry-Londonderry midday on Monday 23 June. The rest of the fleet is expected to arrive by late Tuesday 24 June.
Race Director, Justin Taylor, explains the synoptic systems which are affecting the fleet’s progress:The weather is very complicated at the moment with four different weather systems affecting the fleet. There is low pressure over the Iberian Peninsula and also a low north west of this centred south of Greenland.
“There is high pressure south west of the fleet and of course high pressure to the north east over Ireland which is giving the UK warm weather at the moment. The fleet is generally sandwiched between all four systems where there is light fluky wind and probably will be so for at least a further 24 to 36 hours. This will produce low boat speeds. As they head further
PSP Logistics San Francisco to Panama 100 Race start leg 7 Race 11
AFTER A SPECTACULAR SEND-OFF FROM SAN FRANCISCO, USA THE 12 STRONG FLEET COMPETING IN THE CLIPPER 2013-14 RACE PULLED NO PUNCHES AS THE 3,300 MILE RACE TO PANAMA GOT OFF TO A FLYING START.
With Derry~Londonderry~Doire, Henri Lloyd and Old Pulteney first across the start line for Race 11, it wasn’t long before PSP Logistics made its move eager to make an impression and secure a win in its title race. Skipper of PSP Logistics, Chris Hollis which currently lies in second place behind Old Pulteney knows all too well the pressure is on:
“Today see’s us on our way to Panama in Race 11, which has being named by our sponsor, the PSP Logistics Panama 100 Cup. Needless to say, we want to do very well in the race for obvious reasons. By the time we were under the Golden Gate Bridge and heading out to sea we had over taken four boats.”Although the Northern Irish entry took an early lead, skipper of Derry~Londonderry~Doire Sean McCarter was far from impressed by his teams initial start in Race 11. Sean explains in today’s skipper report:“Our departure today was less than straight forward. With crowds cheering from the dock, we proceeded to bounce our way out of the marina in a very erratic manner. I was worried the Coastguard might want to breathalyse me but I can honestly confirm that as the tide was fully out, the keel was gently ploughing through the muddy bottom and making manoeuvring very tricky!” “After the embarrassing departure, we knew we had to redeem ourselves at the start. The largely new crew (11 joiners) pulled together really well with the seasoned round the world crew and we managed to win the start and lead out under the Golden Gate Bridge which was fantastic for all aboard (and all our fans who were unlucky enough to witness our departure!)”
With just four miles now separating the top three leading boats, Old Pulteney, PSP Logistics and Derry~Londonderry~Doire respectively, all eyes will be on the Race Viewer to see how the tactics in Race 11 will play out over the next few weeks. To read all the skipper reports click here
It’s been one of the toughest legs of the 2013-14 edition of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, but crossing the finish line, even in the dark, under San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge, is a moment to savour after 5600 miles of ocean racing across the mighty Pacific
GREAT Britain crossed the finish line of Race 10 in the 16 stage global series at 21:42:56 local time (UTC-7) on April 9 to take line honours ahead of rival Henri Lloyd who slipped back into second place around 1.30pm local time today.
Henri Lloyd crossed the line two hours later at 23:45 local time. A battle had ensued for the last five days between Henri Lloyd and GREAT Britain with the teams both alternating between first, second and third place on the leader board.
Invest Africa crossed the line at 05:26am local time on April 10 taking the third line honours place.
All results are provisional and the final positions will be confirmed by the race office after redress is applied. Simon Talbot, skipper of GREAT Britain, said: “We have had a very good race with Eric and Henri Lloyd, its always great to have someone to spar against. It’s no fun if you are 500 miles ahead. It’s a real sense of achievement battling it out. Coming out of the windhole yesterday I just couldn’t see how we would claw it back.
“They managed to pull 15 miles on us by running inshore, then we pulled it back by running deeper and came in first under the bridge. I know Eric will be very pleased with his team’s performance and he has had a very fine race with a crew of 13. We had a crew of 18 and we worked really hard.
“This was not the Pacific crossing that it was billed to be. We had no storms, we had no frontal systems passing over but the wind was gusting at 50 knots at times and we love sailing in that. We had a very fast downwind race and had 20 days of sunshine – that is what you call luck.
“There is a constant battle in a long race like this to keep performance up, but the crew like winning so it is easy for my crew to get out of bed each watch.”
Henri Lloyd skipper Eric Holden said his team had fought with GREAT Britain right to the bitter end for several races in a row now.
“It was their turn this time and they got the better of us. We tried as hard as we could but we just got a little tired towards the end. It was a long race and you can’t push full on the whole time, so you have to pick when you really go for it and when you sit back a bit. You could tell a lot of boats did that and we found the right times.”
GREAT Britain celebrates San Francisco line honours
Imagine being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, sailing one of the Volvo Ocean Race’s toughest legs. The boat is a 65-foot carbon machine and it’s slamming down the waves. Now imagine you don’t speak the same language as your crewmates, but you’re still weeks away from your destination. Welcome onboard Dongfeng Race Team.
Liu Xue is on that boat. The 21-year old comes from Qingdao and has sailed for the past seven years. He has been selected with five other Chinese guys to sail the training leg from China to New Zealand with Dongfeng.
They left Sanya on Saturday.
Liu Xue, Jin Hao Chen, Liu Ming, Ying Kit Cheng, Jiru Yang and Yiran Zhang are now heading to Auckland with skipper Charles Caudrelier and a mixed bag of international candidates, sailing 5,264 nautical miles (9,749 km) for 20 days or so. It will be their longest offshore experience and their first time crossing the Equator.
There is one problem though. “I felt a bit embarrassed to speak English the first times I sailed with the team,” says Liu Xue. “I’ve only sailed inshore before and the vocabulary required for this race is much bigger.
Communicating with his Western crewmates has proved challenging for him. The truth is, the majority of the Chinese did not understand English very well when they first trialled, and worked through interpreters.
“I do feel the pressure, but I will overcome this barrier,” adds Liu Xue, who already has an English nickname, ‘Hey’. In Sanya’s Serenity Marina, instead of going to bed like the others, the Chinese went straight to English lessons after dinner.
“We want half of the crew to be Chinese,” says Caudrelier, a Frenchman who won the race last time around with Groupama. “Few of them know about ocean racing and it’s quite a challenge with the race starting in six months. But they are very keen and very dedicated, and they are working hard.”
So even if you don’t master the language, you can still make up for it with sheer enthusiasm?
“I’m already seeing their personalities and skills developing,” answers Caudrelier. “Some of them get it quicker; some are keener than others.”
Nick Cherry coached the aspirants in Sanya. “There are more similarities than differences between all those who dream of sailing the Volvo. Some of the Chinese guys certainly had a less diverse sailing background than you might expect from a similar group in the UK but the hunger and the drive are the same.”
“Some guys will naturally cope very well and others won’t,” warns Caudrelier. “I already have a good idea of who will do well from our training in Sanya, but you can never be too sure, which is why training legs like these are essential.”
No doubt his Chinese apprentices will learn lots about ocean racing, about safety, the boat and the weather. By the time they arrive in Auckland around mid-April, they should all know if they have good sea legs – or not.
But there is more to sailing than vocabulary and skills.
“Non-Chinese sailors are always happy while sailing,” says Liu Xue. “It’s not just a job for them. That’s the spirit of sailing we need to learn.”
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