Clipper Round the World Race: Cork Clipper 68 damage assessed

Thursday, 14 January 2010

The skippers of California and Team Finland both report that crew morale is good following their recovery of the Cork crew from the small island of Gosong Mampango.

Having hit a submerged reef during the hours of darkness, Cork was stuck fast and unable to move. As a precautionary measure, the crew were evacuated using life rafts to get ashore. They then used the rafts to head towards the two Clipper yachts lying off shore and all on board are accounted for and safe. Hot drinks and a meal were provided and the crew are now resting after the incident.

Round the world Cork crew member, Sean Coote, commented, "I'm feeling a bit other worldly at the moment on board California as a guest rather then a crew member. The rescue and subsequent hospitality are much appreciated and we are now heading for Batam.

"After our evacuation and on reaching the island it was unreal to look back and see Cork on her side with waves breaking over the port beam. Our life raft was picked up approximately half an hour after leaving the island by the California crew who were immediately on hand with biscuits and hot tea. The teams know each other well and there were lots of hugs, kisses, expressions of sympathy and welcome donations of dry clothing

"Having had a brief sleep and something to eat, thoughts are now turning to contacting family and re-assuring them that we are OK. We are grateful to have escaped with no major injuries and proud to have rallied together as team and survived a harrowing ordeal and test of our resilience."

California is now making her way on towards Singapore with eight of the Cork team on board. The remaining eight crew members, including skipper Richie Fearon, are on Team Finland which continues to monitor the situation.

Qingdao has now joined Team Finland and when the wind dropped earlier today, skipper Chris Stanmore-Major and team member Chris Connell (who is an active crew member with the RNLI) went ashore on Gosong Mampango in order to conduct a further assessment of the damage to Cork. This included taking digital photographs and video footage which can be sent back from the boats communication system, so that experts from around the world can better assess the situation and formulate a plan of action.

Edinburgh Inspiring Capital is also now abeam of the island. Colin Campbell, one of the team members on board, is a naval architect and he will provide further expert advise on the situation and the best options for recovery.

The Cork crew's passports are already safely on board Team Finland and other valuables were collected when the boat was assessed earlier today.

In the event that Cork is unable to start Races 6 and 7, crew places will be available across the nine other yachts for the leg to Qingdao in late February and on to San Francisco in early April. Long before then, a clear understanding of the longer term implications will have become apparent and Clipper will keep all interested parties fully updated.

The priority for now is to continue to ensure that the skipper and crew of Cork are safe and being looked after. The Clipper Race team are due to land in Singapore later on today and will begin looking at the various logistics for when the boats arrive. This includes the usual immigration procedures in addition to ensuring that the crew of Cork has accommodation, clothes and other essential items when they step ashore.

The other seven yachts continue to race towards Singapore and the first boats are expected to finish within the next 48 hours. Cape Breton Island has gone into Stealth Mode which means they are hidden from view for the next 24-hours. Of the boats whose position are known Spirit of Australia continues to lead the race with Jamaica Lightning Bolt and Uniquely Singapore close behind. With boats diverting to deal with the emergency, there will clearly be requests for redress once the fleet has arrived in Singapore.

Unsurprisingly, everyone's thoughts are with their fellow competitors from Cork. Jan Ridd, skipper of Cape Breton Island, sent back the following to race HQ this morning.

"We are all so glad to hear that everyone on board Cork is safe and that no one was hurt. We cannot imagine how terrifying it must have been as the weather was awful last night and at one point, we experienced wind speeds of 56 knots.

"We are now in a very close tacking match with Spirit of Australia and Jamaica Lightning Bolt, but to be honest since receiving the news about the seriousness of Cork's situation to both myself and the crew, the racing does not seem important right now."

See photo in Clipper Round the World album:

Last Updated ( Thursday, 14 January 2010 )