Nico Budel, racing Leg 2 of the Portimão Global Ocean Race aboard his Open 40 Hayai, has sustained irreparable damage to the keel of his yacht and has issued a MAYDAY call seeking immediate assistance. The 69 year old veteran of numerous offshore races is one of two solo sailors participating in the race and is currently deep in the Southern Ocean. His position at the time of the distress call was 240 nautical miles NNE of the Crozet Islands, a bleak archipelago deep in the Southern Ocean’s Roaring Forties inhabited by a handful of scientists in a research station. The MAYDAY and subsequent activation of his EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radiobeacon) has launched a full rescue operation with two ships and a fellow competitor diverting to his location to affect a rescue.
“Since early this morning the situation has developed rapidly from some concerns about the keel to a full blown rescue operation,” said Race Director Josh Hall. “Nico is in no immediate danger but it’s clear that his yacht will not survive the approaching gale force winds without further damaging the keel and it is in danger of capsizing. Hayai is the only canting keel boat in our fleet but, more importantly, I believe that the keel has hit something for this to happen. We will not rest easy until Nico is safely aboard another vessel and out of this dangerous situation." More here.