Rescue operations are currently underway for French Golden Globe Race 2018 competitor Loic Lepage, whose boat is dismasted and taking on the water some 600 miles southwest of Perth, Australia.
According to race organizers, the rescue operation began after the Join Rescue Coordination Center in Canberra, Australia, picked up a distress beacon alert from Lepage on Saturday indicating his Nicholson 32, Laaland, had been disabled. JRCC then immediately relayed a mayday to all shipping and a Challenger aircraft was dispatched from Perth with a droppable pump onboard to assess the situation and photograph the disabled yacht.
After the plane arrived on scene, Loïc advised the crew by VHF that he was conducting repairs to his engine and did not require a pump or any other supplies to be dropped. He also stated that water ingress was at a rate of approximately 40 gallons per hour but that the onboard pumps were keeping up. The aircraft reported that the mast did not appear to be attached to the vessel and that no other significant external damage was visible.
On Saturday, Lepage, who first called race headquarters when thing started to go wrong, reported that his mast had broken in two places while sailing in 25-knot winds and 9ft seas. After cutting away the rigging, the 62-year-old sailor said he was concerned that a section of the mast may have damaged the hull near the keel, but that the initial ingress of water had stopped. He did not ask for assistance and was planning to set up a jury rig at first light on Sunday and sail to Fremantle unassisted.
That all changed a few hours later when Lepage made a second call to race HQ to say his yacht was now leaking at the rate of 8 gallons of water per 10-15 minutes from an area in the keel hidden from view by a water tank. His pumps were working and keeping up with the flow, but conditions outside had deteriorated, with winds of 40 knots.
For the latest on Lepage and ongoing rescue efforts, click here.