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Swiss solo sailor successfully rescued after whale strike

By Sue Richards last modified Nov 26, 2009 08:06 PM

Published: 2009-11-26 20:06:27
Countries: Australia , New Zealand

As reported in

A solo Swiss yachtsman and would-be double circumnavigator was successfully rescued from his crippled boat Tuesday 24 November, 430nm west of New Zealand’s Stewart Island, the New Zealand Rescue Coordination Centre said. The rudder on Bernt Luchtenborg's yacht Horizons was badly damaged by what is presumed to be a whale in rough seas on Sunday making it difficult for him to steer.

Bernt, a long experienced sailor left Cuxhaven in Germany on 27th June this year and at the time of the incident was five months into his attempt to solo circumnavigate the globe unassisted and non-stop.

After dispatching an Air Force Orion to locate the stricken boat, the rescue centre diverted the cruise liner Seven Seas Mariner which was on its way to Milford Sound.

The liner found the sailor around 8am Tuesday (NZ time) and successfully rescued him from his yacht.

Rescue centre search and rescue mission co-ordinator Dave Wilson said the rescue had been an international effort.

"The yacht was technically in Australian search and rescue waters, but was physically closer to New Zealand. We worked with the Australian search and rescue authorities to ensure we launched the best response."

A Royal New Zealand Air Force plane had located the stricken vessel, which was badly damaged Sunday in rough seas.

The Rescue Coordination Centre in New Zealand declined to disclose the man’s name on grounds of protecting his privacy.

He was reported to be in good health aboard the liner Seven Seas Mariner, which was due to reach New Zealand’s Milford Sound on Wednesday 25 November, a tourist mecca for visitors to New Zealand on the west coast of the south island.

Bernt's experience in ocean sailing is impressive. He has completed three Atlantic crossings, including two solo, and was planning to sail around 50,000nm non-stop around the world, once with, and then once against the wind. In the attempt he had already sailed down the Atlantic and across the Indian Ocean.

Apart from his trips being one of adventure, he was also collecting water samples from the Southern Ocean for chemical analysis back in Europe.

His yacht has been left drifting, and is therefore a potential hazard to other small vessels. Bernt is hoping to charter a fishing boat to go in search of the Horizons.

For more information about Bernt Luchtenborg, go to his website (in German).