French Solo Sailor Rescued in Southern Ocean

This map shows the route French sailor, Alain Delord, was attempting to navigate before his yacht, Tchouk Tchouk Nougat, was damaged in rough weather.
Courtesy Hugues Lemoine/Lem’s Blog

A French lone sailor adrift for days in a life raft on huge Southern Ocean swells after his yacht sank was recovered Sunday by the crew of an Antarctic cruise ship that had raced to his rescue.

Alain Delord was attempting to sail solo and without assistance around the world when his yacht, Tchouk Tchouk Nougat, was damaged in rough weather off southern Australia's Tasmania island on Friday.

The Frenchman was forced to abandon ship and had been adrift in a life raft on the Southern Ocean since then.

An Antarctic cruise ship carrying 100 passengers was diverted about 1,800 kilometers (1,125 miles) to his assistance. It battled worsening weather to reach him before sunset, amid fears he would have to spend a third night at sea.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said the Orion managed to find Delord and pluck him to safety, in an alert issued just after 9:30 pm local time (1030 GMT).

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"I'm very pleased to confirm the solo sailor, who had been in a life raft in the Southern Ocean for the past three days, has been recovered by the cruise ship Orion and AMSA believes he is being taken to Hobart," a spokeswoman said.

There were "scant" early details of the rescue but AMSA said Delord had been recovered "safely and without injury".

"He is currently receiving medical attention and early indications are that he is healthy," the authority said. "Weather conditions were better than expected and there was plenty of light in the area."

A Fairfax newspaper reporter on board the Orion said Delord had been recovered by a Zodiac inflatable dinghy. He looked "awake and relatively well" as he boarded the ship by a side door to cheers and whistles from those on board.

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