With all the electronic communications and safety gear available, modern voyaging is safer than ever. Offshore sailing still involves sails and lines, however, and on bigger boats and in higher winds, the forces involved can get substantial. Add in the excitement of racing and the chance of injury can increase. The skipper of Greenings, a boat in the Clipper Race, fell prey to the dangers when he injured his thumb during a spinnaker takedown. Here is the press release from the Clipper Race:
"One of the twelve teams competing in the 40,000 nautical mile Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race is diverting to Porto, Portugal, after the team’s Skipper suffered a serious injury to his left hand which requires emergency medical attention.
The incident occurred on board Greenings to Skipper David Hartshorn, 52, a British professional sailor, at approximately 23:00 BST last night on day seven of the opening leg of the Clipper Race, from Liverpool to Punta del Este, Uruguay.
Clipper Race Director Mark Light explains: “The incident occurred around 450 Nm off the Portuguese coast whilst David was leading a spinnaker drop in breezy conditions. Unfortunately, his left thumb became caught in one of the lines which has resulted in some serious damage.”
The decision to divert to Porto was made quickly following assessment from the race’s remote medical support physicians at PRAXES as well as the team’s onboard medic, that an urgent operation is required.
Mark added: “In this rare situation that the Skipper is incapacitated, Coxswain qualified crew members on board each team have received intensive training on how to take control of the yacht alongside the Skipper and lead it safely to the nearest port, where further assistance will be provided, which is the case in this situation.”
The yacht is under good control between the Clipper Race Coxswain and Skipper and all other crew are safe and well. David himself is currently in very good spirits, being constantly monitored, and has been given morphine and antibiotics.
Due to the distance from Porto, which is estimated to be approximately two days sailing away, options are currently being examined for a medevac to be organised before the yacht reaches land. Once the team arrive into port, they will be met by Clipper Race officials who will advise the next steps to enable the team to continue its race to Uruguay.
This opening leg of the race, between Liverpool, UK, and Punta del Este, Uruguay, is the first of eight stages which comprise the world’s biggest round the world yacht race. Over 700 crew are set to compete across the twelve teams in this global endurance test which will take eleven months to complete.
The first teams are expected to cross the finish line in Uruguay around 20 September. The Clipper 2017-18 Race left Liverpool’s Historic Albert Dock on 20 August and will return on Saturday July 28, 2018."
UPDATE: DAvid Hartshorn has had surgery on his thumb in Portugal and the operation has reportedly gone well. This from the Clipper Race:
"We are very happy to update that we spoke with Dave Hartshorn today who is in fantastic spirits, with his wife Lorraine by his side. He says the operation went really well and he will be discharged from hospital today.
He required four hours of surgery on his fractured, partially detached left thumb, and will need another operation upon return to the UK but is expected to regain full use, albeit with some potential stiffness, following recovery time."