After six days of battling against 35 knot winds and waves in excess of 5 m with damaged steering, Heya crossed the ARC finish line triumphantly at 23:16UTC yesterday.
A huge crowd of ARC participants lined the dockside at Rodney Bay Marina, to cheer their arrival with boat's hooters and sirens galore. Skipper Mirko van Roomen and crewman Stefano Trabastioni from Ascona in Switzerland, were happy and smiling, although obviously relived to have arrived, as they were escorted into Rodney Bay Marina by the St.Lucia Police Launch and a Coastguard vessel.
Despite three attempts to send tugs to their aide, which failed due to mechanical problems, the crew made to the 325 nautical miles to St.Lucia without any outside assistance. At the time, extreme weather conditions made it impossible for the crew to rig a jury rudder. Although they were asked if they wanted to abandon Heya, Mirko and Stefano refused to give up and battled on. After three days of drifting, the weather gradually began to ease. The break in the conditions was then enough to allow Mirko and Stefano to rig a jury rudder using a spinnaker pole and winches to control it. Calmer seas and lighter winds allowed them to sail once more and they set a course for St.Lucia, having already transferred the other members of their crew to the yacht Chellers on Monday 17th.
To make matters even worse Heya, a 10.96m long EC37, also had problems with their satellite telephone, making communication with the MRCC in Fort de France, Martinique difficult. At the request of the MRCC, Heya continued to use their EPIRB to give position fixes, as they made their way to St.Lucia. The crew are now relaxing and enjoying some shoreside comfort after 24 days at sea.