Solo sailor meets AMSA officers who coordinated his rescue

Thursday 24 January 2013
A solo sailor who spent three days in his life raft in the Southern Ocean visited AMSA's Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC Australia) on Wednesday to meet the duty crews who coordinated the rescue operation.
Rescued sailor Alain DeLord (front row, second from right) meets with AMSA search and rescue officers and Defence personnel who assisted in his rescue. Also present was David Steck, Deputy Consul, Embassy of France (front row, far right)

Alain DeLord's yacht was dismasted on Friday 18 January while he was attempting a round the world journey. He activated his EPIRB (distress beacon) at 1:00pm on Friday afternoon after abandoning his vessel 450 nautical miles from Hobart.

In a logistically challenging operation due to the remoteness of the location and the communication difficulties presented by Frenchman Alain not speaking English, RCC Australia coordinated five aircraft, two French interpreters, six drops of life rafts, communications equipment, food, water and a survival suit (including sourcing radios and satellite phones from around the country), and a cruise ship, which was more than 50 hours away, to assist in the rescue.

At 9:30pm on Sunday, Alain was safely aboard the cruise ship Orion and enjoying his first meal in three days.

During the operational debrief at RCC Australia, Alain described how his life raft capsized in the rough seas five times, each time he had to swim back to it in water that was around nine degrees. He had been lucky to find his EPIRB in the yacht, which had flooded before he abandoned it. AMSA personnel used the opportunity to learn what people in life rafts can see and hear when planes are dropping supplies and if the use of French interpreters on the planes, to maintain communication with him, was helpful.

Alain thanked the duty crews who he said have given him 'a second chance at life'. He also said that while sailing is his passion, now that he has a second life he will need to find a second hobby.

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