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2 January 2005, 09:57 am
Airlift Successful
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2004/2005 Global Challenge

John MASTERS has been successfully airlifted off Imagine It Done thanks to the Rescue Coordination Centre, New Zealand who coordinated the airlift by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter and subsequently the Life Flight air ambulance.

John is currently on his way to the Chatham Islands onboard the helicopter where he will be transferred to the fixed wing air ambulance for the 400-mile trip back to Wellington.

On board the fixed wing air ambulance are John's wife Lorraine, Vicky SHERWOOD from Challenge Business and a doctor and nurse, who will take over the immediate care of John.

After six days at sea with John seriously ill, Dee CAFFARI, the skipper of Imagine It Done, who was obviously relieved but exhausted, sent a brief log to Race HQ, 'evacuation successful, engine off, going to bed.'

The airlift, which could only take place in daylight hours, had to be delayed because of heavy cloud cover.

A fixed wing spotter aircraft arrived at the yacht fifteen minutes ahead of the Wellington based Westpac Rescue Helicopter, which was to take John off the yacht.

The fixed wing aircraft was used to pinpoint the location of Imagine it Done so enabling the helicopter to fly directly to the yacht saving valuable airtime and providing standby cover in case of an additional emergency.

Once overhead the yacht, the helicopter dropped a hi-line (a rope with a weighted sack on the end) onto the yacht. This line was then used to help guide a paramedic onto the deck of the yacht as he was lowered by the helicopter winch man.

This whole operation took considerable coordination between the helicopter pilot and winchman as the yacht and helicopter were both moving forward and the yacht pitching and rolling heavily.

Prior to being moved onto the deck John was put into his dry suit and life jacket and prepared for evacuation.

As soon as the Life Flight paramedic was dropped onto the deck John was put into a special harness and when ready he and the paramedic were 'snatch lifted' off the deck.

If the lifting process was done slowly, the risks of further injury through snagging on rigging, or even dunking in the sea would be increased, so a very rapid hoist was employed.

Imagine It Done has taken the decision to retire from this leg. Now they will be able to rest and enjoy the luxury of a shower before pressing their way to Wellington to an undoubted heroes welcome.

In other areas of the race the front three leading yachts are locked in mighty combat. 'We can see BG Spirit in front of us and BP Explorer behind us,' exclaimed Rachel MORGAN from second placed Spirit of Sark earlier.

To see other yachts after thousands of miles, in one of the most inhospitable places in the world is phenomenal, and brings a dramatic conclusion to the end of the leg.

Samsung's position, after diverting to assist in the medivac, actually may have put them in a more favourable position.

The boat managed to creep past Barclays Adventurer as skipper of Samsung, Matt RIDDELL explained, 'we are sailing more westerly to generate better angle on south westerlies expected within the next 12 hours, attempting to make up positions after diversion to assist Imagine It Done.'

Also keeping an eye of on Leg 1 winners, Barclays Adventurer, is SAIC La Jolla. Her skipper, Eero LEHTINEN commented, 'sailing below course with an open wind angle to cover Barclays so they don't get any advantage from the shift in wind to the south once the front clears. SAIC.'

This is the final stretch for the leading yachts, which are all heading towards the Cook Straits - between the North and South islands of New Zealand - and onto Wellington (on the North Island).

The ETA for the first yachts is Tuesday 4 January (local time).

Pindar is expected to arrive off Wellington on the 7th and Team Stelmar on the 21st January. The friends and family line for up-to-the-minute ETAs is +64 21 0700 if outside New Zealand, and 021 0700 350 - landlines and mobiles in the country.

Fleet positions - Distance to go:

BG SPIRIT 349

Spirit of Sark 358

BP Explorer 376

VAIO 478

Me to You 482

Samsung 498

SAIC La Jolla 512

Barclays Adventurer 532

Team Save the Children 535

Pindar 714

Team Stelmar 3,074

Imagine It Done 485

Rachel Anning
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