British yachtsman is rewarded for heroism

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The Independent Online
The British round-the-world yachtsman Pete Goss is to be compensated for his selfless heroism in rescuing a French race colleague whose boat sank in treacherous conditions in the Southern Ocean.

Organisers of the non-stop Vendee Globe race praised the bravery of the former Royal Marine and confirmed that the time he spent saving Raphael Dinelli by making a 150-mile diversion will be taken into account in the final positions.

Goss, 35, an award-winning ocean yachtsman who holds the record for the smallest catamaran to cross the Atlantic, was lying seventh in the single- handed race when he sailed to the rescue of Dinelli. The race director, Philippe Jeantot, speaking from Paris, said: "All at headquarters salute his courage and determination."

The 28-year-old Frenchman was stranded in a liferaft dropped to him by an Australian plane after his yacht, the Algimouss, began to sink 1,400 miles south-west of Perth.

In fading light on Boxing Day, Goss carried out a systematic triangular search pattern. When Dinelli's boat sank, his chances of surviving would have been regarded as slim.

Although satellite locating equipment is accurate, there is no commercial shipping in that area of the Southern Ocean; it is also well out of helicopter range. His only hope lay in a fellow competitor.

When not racing, Goss lives at St Germans, Cornwall, with his wife, Tracey, and their three children. He sold his house and ran up debts of more than pounds 80,000 to fulfil a 10-year ambition to take part in the Vendee race. His 50ft sloop, Aqua Quorum, is the smallest in the field.

Goss was the first to respond to a mayday call put out by the French vessel, and he found Dinelli's liferaft drifting in conditions close to freezing point at 11.40pm (GMT) on Thursday. The race organiser, Laurie Gallizzi, said: "Pete went straight away in the direction of Raphael when he heard what had happened. Every hour from then on he sent us a fax to say how he was going. He sailed there really fast; we were surprised at how quickly he got near to the spot where Mr Dinelli was."

A message sent from the British yacht confirmed the rescue. "I have just had the best Christmas present ever. Raphael is on board. He is very cold and happy. I've just given him a cup of tea." Modestly concentrating on the Frenchman's bravery, Goss added: "Raphael's story is amazing. He was close to death several times but each time something saved him." It is understood that the Frenchman suffered only minor injuries. When his vessel capsized, winds in the area were thought to have been gusting at up to 75mph.

On both occasions that the Vendee race has been held, French boats have triumphed, and this time was expected to be no exception. Before the crews set off, however, Goss said: "The French don't own single-handed sailing. We're going to take them on and win."

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority confirmed the rescue and said the Frenchman was in good spirits, suffering only from mild hypothermia. A spokesman said: "Their intention is to head for Hobart, Tasmania, to offload Raphael." This will probably be done by a special helicopter or rescue- craft transfer.

During the race the two men are understood to have developed a close bond. Dinelli earlier helped Goss by keeping in radio contact for several days after his satellite fax broke down.

Goss, an ocean-racing professional, finished second in his class in this year's single-handed transatlantic race and is now seventh out of the 10 competitors remaining from the original field of 14 yachts which left the French port of Les Sables d'Olonne on 3 November. They are due back in February or March after their 22,000-mile marathon.

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