Yachtsman abandons solo world sailing bid

Andrew Halcrow, 54, was airlifted from his boat Elsi Arrub off the coast of Chile last night after sending out a Mayday distress call following damage to the vessel.

Mr Halcrow was caught in extreme weather west of Cape Horn and had to abandon his attempt when a wave snapped the mast on his yacht.

Although the weather is still very bad in the region, the sailor was not injured during the storm and was able to stay on-board and wait for rescue. He was taken to Punta Arenas, in southern Chile, last night, more than 24 hours after he made his Mayday call. A statement on Mr Halcrow's website said: "During the midst of a huge storm just west of the Horn, Elsi's mast broke. It is with huge regret that Andrew has had to call Mayday.

"Thankfully, he is safe whilst being devastated by what has just happened."

The incident happened on Saturday as the storm started to abate.

Speaking while he was waiting to be rescued, his wife Allyson said the yacht was drifting and the weather was still "very, very wild down there".

She said: "We all feel devastated but also immensely relieved that he seems to be okay."

A previous attempt at circumnavigation in 2006 had to be abandoned when Mr Halcrow became seriously ill with appendicitis while crossing the Southern Ocean.

He was able to make a satellite call to his wife in Shetland, who alerted the UK coastguard liaison station in Falmouth. Their officers got in touch with their Australian counterparts and just four-and-a-half hours later, spotter planes found him 300 miles south-west of Australia.

A tanker was sent to the father-of-two's aid and he was airlifted to the mainland. His boat was discovered still afloat months later and was brought back to Shetland.

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