Sailing: Air force drops off supplies for sick crewman

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The Independent Online

A mid-ocean rendezvous was successfully completed by the Royal Australian Air Force yesterday after an appeal from Grant Dalton's yacht for urgently needed drugs and medication for a sick crewman. The medical support team has recommended that he is taken off as quickly as possible, but the Volvo Ocean Race fleet is well away from the normal shipping lanes in one of the most desolate areas of the marine planet.

Dalton and his doctor-navigator Roger Nilson called on the emergency services after Keith Kilpatrick, from California, was diagnosed with a severely blocked intestine. Nilson had given Kilpatrick both antibiotics and morphine and attached a saline drip, suggesting that freeze-dried food and dehydration had contributed to the problem.

However, supplies in a medical kit put together to cover everything from a rash to a broken limb were running low and the yacht, deep in the Southern Ocean between Cape Town and Sydney, still had 1,400 miles to run to the next mark of the course, Eclipse Island off the south-west corner of Australia. The pick-up of fresh supplies from an Orion aircraft was completed at 1.32pm yesterday.

The more comfortable the ride for Kilpatrick the longer it will be before he can receive hospital treatment. The quicker, because of stronger winds and bigger seas, the more painful. Even so, it will take about four days before he can be transferred, either by helicopter or, more likely, by a boat sent out to meet the yacht, which was second on the first leg from Southampton, but is now lying sixth on the 6,500-mile second leg.

Gunnar Krantz, who came from a poor first leg to win the second leg in the last race, continues to hold a narrow lead over the leg one winner, John Kostecki in illbruck, but the race will start a new phase when the yachts round Eclipse Island at the weekend.

The Anglo-Australian pairing of Alex Bennett and Paul Larsen arrived just in time for breakfast to celebrate their victory in the Open 50 class of the Transat Jacques Vabre race from Le Havre to Bahia Salvador, Brazil. In the boat which, as Aqua Quorum had been Pete Goss's in the 1995 Vendée Globe, Bennett, who wants to do the same race, and Larsen, who was rescued alongside Goss when the Team Philips catamaran broke up in the Atlantic, were clear winners.

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