Rescue operation launched to save stranded British yachtswoman Susie Goodall

Our Foreign Staff
Susie Goodall was taking part in a single-handed non-stop race around the world (file photo) - AFP

A rescue operation is now underway to save a British yachtswoman who has become stranded thousands of miles from land during a round-the-world race.

Susie Goodall was taking part in the arduous Golden Globe Race - a single-handed non-stop race around the world - when her yacht capsized and dismasted in a storm in the south Pacific.

Disaster struck when her yacht was wrecked 2,000 miles west of the southern tip of South America after it was pitch-poled - turned end-over-end - by a huge wave.

Coastguards in Ms Goodall's home town of Falmouth, Cornwall, say they have now received news of the activation of her emergency beacon and a rescue operation, coordinated by the authorities in Chile, is now under way.

Ms Goodall, 29, has also tweeted that she had banged her head but was otherwise uninjured.

However her yacht DHL Starlight has been smashed up and she reported she was "clinging to her bunk" awaiting for rescue.

Her position is so remote that the nearest vessel, a Hong Kong-registered cargo ship, is not expected to arrive at her location until 5am (UK time) on Friday.

Speaking to race HQ she said: "I have been dismasted. Thought I had holed the hull because the boat filled with water, but the hull is NOT holed. The hull is ok. The boat is destroyed. I can't make up a jury rig.

"The only thing left is the hull and deck which remain intact. We were pitchpoled and I was thrown across the cabin and knocked out for a while."

In a statement Susie Goodall Sailing said: "We are extremely saddened by the incident which took place on December 5 on board Susie Goodall's boat DHL Starlight.

"The safety of Susie is of utmost importance. From the information we have available at this time we know that Susie was sailing in the Pacific Ocean, 2,000 miles west of Cape Horn in 60 knot winds when her wind vane broke.

"The exact height of the waves is unknown, but massive seas reported. She deployed her drogue [sea anchor] to steady the boat, but that failed.

"She was in the cabin when the boat pitchpoled, sending her and the boat's contents flying forward and knocking her unconscious for a period of time.

"She sustained a minor head injury and spent the following hours removing the rigging debris to prevent further boat damage. The hull of the boat is unbreached, and Susie is safe.

"The Chilean authorities are coordinating a rescue effort, and have requested assistance from a ship 480 miles South West of Susie's position. Her captain expects to take 2 days to reach the area.

"Up until today, Susie was attempting to sail around the world solo as part of the Golden Globe Race.

"Susie Goodall Racing would like to thank the race support team for their help during this time.

"The family are in regular contact with the Golden Globe Race team and have spoken to Susie since the incident."

Ms Goodall is an experienced sailing instructor who was originally from the West Midlands but now lives in Falmouth.

Speaking of her love of sailing, she wrote: "The first time I was in a boat I was three years old.

"My family have always sailed and I grew up sailing with them, spending all our family holidays on boats then at weekends I would race at my local sailing club, Himley Hall.

"I got my first boat when I was 11 - a Laser 1. And I loved it! I raced it in a fleet against other clubs in the area until at 17 I moved to the Isle of Wight to work as a sailing instructor.

"Reality struck me when I had to sell my beloved Laser in order to pay for some additional courses. So much love and care had gone into that boat to keep her afloat so I was so sad to have to let her go.

"I then went on to teach watersports for a few years both in the UK and Australia before moving onto yacht training at about 20.

"My first job on a yacht was when I was 21 in Australia and from there I hopped about on a few different boats, both sail and motor, before joining Rubicon 3 as Mate.

"I was on there for three years with my final two as skipper which was brilliant as I prefer the sailing training and expedition work and this took me to amazing places such as Iceland, Greenland, Svalbard and the Baltic.

"When I was little I heard about these people who sailed around the world on their own, for fun, and I knew I wanted to do that one day too.

"So when I first heard there was going to be a re-run of the Golden Globe Race, my mind was made up and I was going to be on that start line."

Ms Goodall won sponsorship from worldwide courier DHL and bought her boat, a Rustler 36 Ariadne, in which she completed a double Atlantic solo crossing in 2017.

She returned the boat to Rustler Yachts in Falmouth where it was refitted, and then renamed DHL Starlight, in preparation for the 2018 Golden Globe Race.