Belfast Telegraph

Overboard sailor from Derry Clipper is saved after two hours in sea

By Donna Deeney

A crew member from the Londonderry-Derry-Doire boat taking part in the Round the World Clipper race has been dramatically plucked from the ocean after being swept overboard.

Andrew Taylor (46) was washed off the yacht during a stage between China and the US and was missing among the waves for almost two hours before he was spotted and rescued.

The Derry entry in this year's yacht race ran into rough weather with 35-knot winds during a sail change in the latest stage of the clipper race, which is currently heading for America from China.

Mr Taylor was working on the sails with skipper Sean McCarter (32), who is from the city, when the drama unfolded.

Mr McCarter immediately halted the yacht, turned it around, initiated 'man overboard' procedure and sent out a mayday alert.

The Londoner could not be seen for more than an hour in the raging sea before being picked up.

Race organisers said his lifejacket and dry suit saved his life.

It is believed he suffered shock and possible hypothermia, and is being treated on board the yacht by a fellow crew member who is a paramedic.

He is said to be in relatively good spirits, awake and talking with fellow crew members.

Clipper organisers said Mr Taylor went into the water at 12.43am UK time on Monday but was not seen again until 1.55am, and taken from the ocean by his team-mates at 2.13am.

The yacht was about halfway on the 5,600-mile leg across the Pacific from Qingdao to San Francisco when the accident happened.

Race director Justin Taylor said: "In these conditions a man overboard is swept away from the boat very quickly and visual contact can be lost in the swell.

"We have a well-rehearsed procedure to mark the position, stop racing and engaged the engine to search for and recover the crew member as quickly as possible.

"An hour-and-a-half is a very long time to be in the water in these conditions.

"But a combination of his sea survival training and seven months at sea, as well as wearing a life jacket and dry suit, will have contributed enormously to his survival."

A race spokesman said safety measures would be looked at to see if anything could be learned.

FACTFILE

It is the fourth time a crew member has gone overboard during the 18-year history of the Clipper event. Most were rescued after just a few minutes. Organisers said that the safety procedures for the race meant that everyone on board the Derry boat knew exactly what was expected of them. The Pacific leg of the Clipper event is the 10th of 16 stages in the world's longest ocean race.

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