Hatfield Hopes Rescues Continue.


Derek Hatfield has commented on the high attrition rate of Vendee Globe Boats in the current edition of the race and hopes that governments of countries close to the dangerous Southern Ocean continue to mount costly and potentially dangerous rescue operations.

Hatfield said that Round-the-world yachting races would end if the countries called upon to rescue sailors in trouble deemed them too risky.

The 56-year-old solo sailor had spent the past week sailing his vessel some 1,600km to Tasmania with a badly damaged sail and little fuel.

Hatfield, who had been determined to reach land without assistance, said competitors in the Vendee Globe were aware of the controversy caused when a sailor needed to be rescued.

Last month French yachtsman Yann Elies was rescued by an Australian naval frigate after he broke his leg in a fall and was unable to move. Rescuers said he would have died at sea without help.

Hatfield, who said possibly only 10 of the 30 yachts that began the endurance race in France in November would complete it, said skippers would always try to get to shore safely on their own.

“We are always conscious of putting other people at risk,”

“If Australia, New Zealand, Chile – any of those countries that we pass by – if any one of them said: ‘We think this is not right, it’s too costly or too dangerous for the rescue services’, if they said ‘No’, then that would be it”

Hatfield told national news agency AAP.

“If they said we don’t think that this should happen then it would not happen because sponsors would not be a part of it and it requires huge sponsorship dollars.”

Hatfield said in cases like Elies, in which the Frenchman was unable to move, even to give himself food or pain killers, there was no option but to ask for help.

Only 15 yachts remain in the Vendee Globe race, which began on November 9 at the French port of Les Sables d’Olonne, heading down to the Cape of Good Hope before crossing the Indian and Southern Oceans south of Australia.

Hatfield said he had not decided whether he would compete in the race again.

“These races are all about the human endeavor and mental preparation – it’s a big thing”