ARC participant lost overboard in mid-Atlantic squall

From Ocean Navigator #128
March/April 2003
A British citizen participating in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers 2002 in December was lost overboard during a period of rough weather while the vessel was halfway across the Atlantic Ocean. Philip Hitchcock, who was sailing double-handed with his brother David aboard their yacht Toutazimut, went over the side at approximately 1230 GMT when the vessel was at 24° 06′ N by 26° 02′ W.

Despite an extensive search, which was coordinated by rescue coordination centers in Ponta Delgada, Azores, and Falmouth, England, and included several vessels involved in the ARC who were in the area, Hitchcock was never recovered and presumed drowned. The event’s organizers, The U.K.-based World Cruising Club, reported that this is the first such incident to occur during an ARC, which is held annually and sails between Las Palmas in the Canary Islands and the Caribbean island of St. Lucia.

After the search was called off, two crewmembers from other ARC vessels, the training ship Tenacious and yacht Lorrigray II, joined David Hitchcock, the victim’s brother, to sail Toutazimut the rest of the way to St. Lucia. The vessel arrived in St. Lucia on Dec. 20.

Tenacious and Lorrigray II assisted another British yacht that experienced difficulty. The crew of F2, a Hunter Legend 450, were forced to abandon ship in the rally after foul weather destroyed the vessel’s rudder. They had managed to sail for more than a week with the assistance of a jury-rigged rudder, constructed by the crew of Tenacious on Dec. 1. When this rudder also failed, the vessel was abandoned and scuttled at 17° 01′ N by 40° 44′ W. The husband-and-wife crew, along with their German shepherd, safely boarded Lorrigray II on Dec. 9 and finished the rally without incident.

By Ocean Navigator