Thursday, December 18, 2008


Yesterday blogged about the dangers of rapid deceleration possibly causing something to break and the benefits of having a doctor on board, and the day before about the curse of offshore sailing.

Today it was all too real for poor Yann Elies on Generali who, as the operations manager of the Vendee Globe put it in the press conference:

"A sudden jolt when he was on the foredeck stopped the boat very suddenly, he was thrown to the deck, and he has broken his left leg. He crawled back inside the boat to be safe and there he called us, his team, to request immediate assistance. He consulted the doctor. The doctor diagnosed a fracture of the femur and said he should not move".

Its horrid to think about - to have to crawl along the deck of a heavy boat with broken left leg, drag oneself into the cabin in order to reach safety and the Iridium phone, his link to the rest of the world. To be seriously injured in one of the most dangerous places on the planet and have nearest help almost 1,000 miles away.

I remember the less serious rope burn injury we had on the ARC mid Atlantic when again we called for medical help and they said we should go to emergency wing of a hospital immediately. Alas that could be done - but at least the patient could be looked after by the skipper who was trained for these moments, and by fellow crew members.

But to be alone must be horrid. And according to his logistics manager at the time of the press conference he had yet been able to get to the pain killers! Apparently "to even pick up the phone is an effort, and the boat’s movement is painful".

I've been trying to avoid excessive use of exclamation marks but if anything deserved one that last but one sentence did.

Having made that call, at who knows what effort, at least he knows that help is on the way. Two nearby skippers including our own Sam Davies, are on their way to give moral support, and if need be, physical assistance.

And yet Sam is herself suffering a serious injury, having been knocked unconscious after going flying when a sail-tie broke.

Thoughts and prayers are with all those battling the elements and their bodies in the wild seas down under.

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