Irish sailor evacuated from Indian Ocean after being dismasted in storm

An Irish sailor has been evacuated from his vessel in the Indian Ocean after suffering difficulties during a storm.

Gregor McGuckin, 32, from Dublin had been almost 2,000 miles south west of Perth in western Australia, taking part in the Golden Globe Race, when he became dismasted.

After the dismasting he went to aid his injured Indian rival Abhilash Tomy.

The mast of Mr Tomy’s yacht Thuriya broke off when it was rolled in the same storm on Friday, and the yachtsman suffered what has been reported as a “severe back injury”.

The 39-year-old Indian navy commander was “incapacitated on his bunk inside his boat”, race organisers said.

In a statement issued on Monday morning, the Golden Globe Race said the French fisheries patrol vessel Osiris reached Mr Tomy’s yacht at 5.30am local time and her crew successfully transferred him to the ship.

The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Canberra reported that “Tomy is conscious, talking and on board the Osiris”, according to the statement.

They then moved to evacuate Mr McGuckin.

On Monday, it was confirmed that Mr McGuckin had been evacuated from his yacht Hanley Energy Endurance.

Team Ireland released a statement to say Mr McGuckin was in good condition.

“We are delighted to confirm Gregor McGuckin and fellow competitor Abhilash Tomy are now onboard the French fisheries patrol vessel Osiris,” the statement said.

“The vessel initially rescued Indian sailor Abhilash Tomy who is reported to be conscious and talking.

“The vessel then sailed approximately 30 miles to safely evacuate Gregor McGuckin.

“McGuckin’s condition is good and has reported nothing more than bumps and bruises.”

The two men are to be taken to Amsterdam Island where they will be given a full medical examination.

Team Ireland also revealed Mr McGuckin’s heroics, managing to steer his damaged vessel close to Mr Tomy’s.

“In an incredible show of seamanship, the 32-year-old Irishman managed to build a jury rig and hand steer his yacht Hanley Energy Endurance for the past four days to within 30 miles of his fellow competitor in order to be on site to assist with the rescue if required,” the statement continued.

“McGuckin did not declare an emergency for his own situation despite being rolled over and losing his mast.

“However, given the extremely remote location and the condition of his yacht, it was deemed the appropriate course of action to abandon his yacht under a controlled evacuation scenario as the opportunity arose.

“The considered move ensures, in the event that his own situation deteriorated in any attempt to reach land in the coming weeks, a second rescue mission would not be required.”

Team Ireland expressed their thanks to those who ran the evacuation.

“Gregor McGuckin’s team, friends and family would like to express their sincere gratitude to all involved in the operation so far,” the statement said.

It added: “Our thoughts are now with Abhilash and his family.”

Mr McGuckin’s actions were also commended by race organisers.

“Faced with a 1,900 mile sail across the Southern Ocean to Western Australia under a small jury rig and without an engine [his fuel was contaminated when the yacht capsized], this is a responsible decision taken by a professional sailor when all the rescue assets are close by,” the Golden Globe Race said in a statement.

“The alternative would have been to continue sailing single-handed without the aid of self-steering [also smashed in the capsize] and risk having to call on the rescue services again should he be disabled further in another storm.”

The 2018 Golden Globe Race departed Les Sables d’Olonne, France, on July 1. Competitors are aiming to sail solo, non-stop around the world, via the five Great Capes and return to the French port.