A STRANDED solo round-the-world sailor has been rescued from wild seas in a dramatic operation on the open sea, 500 nautical miles off the southern tip of Australia.
Veteran French sailor Alain Delord was rescued amid cheers from passengers aboard the luxury cruise ship MV Orion, which had changed course from a trip to Antarctica to save him.
In a remarkable operation in high winds and seven-metre waves, he was taken from his small liferaft; he looked awake and relatively well.
Mr Delord set off a distress beacon on Friday after the mast on his 11-metre yacht broke in rough weather, 500 miles off Tasmania’s south-west coast.
The 63-year-old, who was attempting a solo around-the-world voyage, abandoned ship and took to the Southern Ocean in a life raft. The luxury Antarctic cruise ship Orion made a 50-hour diversion to come to the stricken Frenchman’s aid in the nick of time.
Captain Mike Taylor of the Orion said tough conditions made the rescue difficult, with 25mph winds.
The Orion was on its way back from an expedition to Antarctica when it received the distress call. It was the closest ship to answer the call.
Australia’s Maritime Safety Authority had dropped food and water to Mr Delord and maintained communication through an interpreter.
The Australian Rescue Co-ordination Centre helped locate the experienced sailor.
“Three days in a raft – he’s probably not going to be walking,” Captain Taylor told ABC radio yesterday.
Mr Delord was following the route of the around-the-world yacht race the Vendee Globe.