British Golden Globe competitor Susie Goodall’s Rustler 36 pitchpoled and dismasted in the Southern Ocean some 2,000 miles west of Cape Horn today. Falmouth Coastguard picked up her distress call at 11:00 UTC. They alerted Race Control and the Chilean Maritime Search and Rescue authorities responsible for this sector of the South Pacific.
Goodall, 29, from Falmouth, was the youngest competitor — and the only woman — in the brutal solo nonstop Golden Globe Race. She was in fourth place at the time, riding out a ferocious storm with 60-knot winds and massive seas aboard DHL Starlight.
In her last text message to Race Control before the dismasting, she reported: “Taking a hammering! Wondering what on earth I’m doing out here.”
In a subsequent message, she wrote: “Dismasted. Hull OK. No form of jury rig, Total loss. Position: 45º 27.787 S 122º 23.537 W.” Goodall had originally thought the hull was holed because the boat filled with water. “The only thing left is the hull and deck, which remain intact. We were pitchpoled and I was thrown across the cabin and knocked out for a while.”
Speaking with emotion but sounding very much in control of her situation, Goodall also confirmed that she had secured all hatches, portholes and safety equipment, and did not need immediate assistance. Before the incident, she had felt in control. But then the safety tube on her windvane broke. She deployed a drogue and took down the mainsail. She was below decks when the boat pitchpoled. When she returned on deck to assess the damage, she found that the line attached to the drogue had parted.
Goodall also reported that she had been “beaten up and badly bruised,” with cuts and scratches and a big bump on her head. Doctors are monitoring her symptoms and providing direct medical advice.
The winds dropped down to 45 knots, and conditions are likely to improve further as the storm continues to head east.
The nearest GGR competitor is Estonion Uku Randmaa, 400 miles ahead of Goodall and about to face the same storm conditions, so it is impractical for him to turn about. It is far safer for Hungarian-American Istvan Kopar, 780 miles to the west, to continue his downwind course and intercept DHL Starlight. The fleet has been alerted to Susie’s situation, and Kopar expects to reach her position in six days. Chilean authorities have contacted a ship 480 miles southwest of Goodall’s position and requested assistance. That ship expects to reach the area in two days.
The leaders in the race, Frenchman Jean-Luc Van Den Heede and Dutchman Mark Slats, are climbing up the Atlantic. According to the leaderboard, Van Den Heede’s current anticipated finish date is January 18. He has to nurse his damaged rig when sailing to weather, to avoid slamming and sending shockwaves up the mast. Second-placed Slats has thus had the chance to make up some time on him. The race started from Les Sables-d’Olonne, France, on July 1. Seven boats out of 18 starters are still racing.