Storm in an Australian teacup over supposedly missing Tony Bullimore

Thursday, 16 November 2006

While news of Tony Bullimore’s ‘local difficulty’ with the communications equipment on his 102ft catamaran Doha 2006 spread like wildfire around Australia and beyond yesterday, the crew by contrast have probably made very little progress towards port.

The latest weather map provided by Lee Bruce, Doha 2006’s weather router, shows a huge high pressure system sitting right over where Tony and his crew are likely to be: 500 – 1,000 miles west of Cape Leeuwin.

Bruce explains ‘Two areas of low pressure are heading south eastward, but other than localized strong winds near squalls, there are no dangerous winds along the route to south western Australia. However, with the exception of the areas near the high pressure, there is useable wind for Tony and crew to make progress toward Australia if they can wriggle clear of the High.”

Barry Pickthall, Team Bullimore’s co-ordinator added. With the winds as they are, I don’t think we can expect Doha 2006 to reach land before the weekend or indeed until early next week. The problem Tony has is that without communications, he cannot pick up the weather forecasts so can only work from their barometer reading and the feel of any seaweed they have onboard.”

In the meantime, speculation on the crew’s whereabouts since they lost contact with the outside world on November 7 shortly after crossing the Equator bound for Hobart, Tasmania, led to more than 2 hours of television time on the major networks across Australia, Europe and the Middle East yesterday, news and phone-in discussions on more than 100 radio stations around the world, and stories in all the major newspapers. Team Bullimore’s own Mistral web site was hit by more than 64,500 hits within 24 hours. The site normally receives around 5,000 hits a day.

“For the present, we are not unduly worried about the situation, which we believe to be a simple case of lack of power onboard the boat.” Barry Pickthall confirmed today. “We are keeping a listening watch and hope the crew will get fresher winds shortly to carry them towards port.”

Tony Bullimore is sailing to Hobart to make a bid to break the 70 day barrier for sailing solo around the world. The current record, held by Dame Ellen MacArthur stands at 71days 14 hours. Doha 2006 is promoting the 2006 Asian Games which start in Doha on December 1.

Read BYM's interview with Tony Bullimore in G-Class. 

Last Updated ( Thursday, 16 November 2006 )