On March 30, Andrew Taylor (46), “Derry~Londonderry~Doire” crew member in the Clipper 2013-14 Round the World Yacht Race, was tossed overboard when the 70-foot race boat rolled violently while he was on the bow assisting in a sail change.
Ninety minutes later, thanks to the fast, well-rehearsed actions of the crew, he was back on board.
“It happened so quickly. One second my feet were on the boat and the next second my head was in the water,” said Taylor. “There was no feeling of losing my balance or trying to get hold of something or looking for something to hang onto or anything like that. It was so fast. There was a flash of purple as the boat went past me.”
As the boat flew by he was hit hard by the rudder, spinning him around, putting him beneath the surface and disorienting him.
In the water Taylor wasn’t sure if anyone had seen him fall into the cold rough seas. They had, but at first they lost sight of him.
“A needle in a haystack doesn’t even describe what we were looking for. We had huge seas. We had very strong winds. We had limited visibility because the sea state was so bad. The water temperature is 10 or 11 degrees,” said Sean McCarter, the boat’s skipper.
Luckily Taylor was in a dry suit.
During the hour-and-a-half Taylor was in the water a storm passed overhead pummeling him first with rain, then hailstones.
“The hailstones hurt really bad,” he said.
Cold and shivering, at first, Taylor eventually became quite comfortable. “I didn’t feel cold anymore. I felt quite relaxed. I wanted to get cold again. I knew warm was bad. I didn’t want to go to sleep.”
Taylor credits the crew and the Clipper training they received for locating him and getting him back on board. He gave special credit to fellow crew member Jason who suited up and was lowered into the water to help him back on board.
“We were trained. We were prepared. We’d been through the drills. We’d rehearsed it. We’d done it so many times together.”