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Rescue operation for solo yachtsman near Tasmania to continue through tonight

Saturday 19 January 2013
The rescue operation for a solo yachtsman who has abandoned his vessel and is in a life raft south west of Tasmania will continue throughout the night with aircraft remaining on scene to maintain communications with the sailor.

The solo sailor’s yacht was de-masted and suffered hull damage in rough weather conditions during his round the world journey.

Throughout the day, three aircraft have attended the scene and have dropped communications equipment, food and water and a survival suit. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority believes the sailor has recovered most of the equipment.

The aircraft have been able to communicate with the sailor, who has not reported any injuries. A commercial aircraft currently on scene has a French interpreter on board who will attempt to gain specific information about the French native sailor’s condition.

Up to three aircraft will attend the area throughout the night. At this stage, the focus of the operation is to maintain communications with the sailor.

A cruise ship, Orion, has started making its way towards the life raft’s position and is due to arrive tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon. Aircraft will remain in the area until a vessel is able to assist.

The location is too distant for a helicopter to rescue the sailor. AMSA has been attempting to make contact with vessels which have been identified within 100 nautical miles of the life raft, but has not been successful.

An associate of the sailor contacted AMSA early on Friday morning after the yacht had been de-masted. After making contact with the sailor, who did not declare he was in distress at the time, AMSA advised him to head towards Hobart.

At approximately 1:00pm AEDT that afternoon, AMSA detected an emergency beacon activation from the sailor 500 nautical miles south west of Hobart.

AMSA believes the experienced sailor has been at sea for several months. Further updates will be provided when more information is available.