The Australian emergency services have been put on alert by Grant Dalton's Amer Sports One after the American crew member Keith Kilpatrick was reported seriously ill, deep in the fearsome Southern Ocean, on the second leg of the Volvo Ocean Race from Cape Town to Sydney.
The yacht's Swedish navigator, Roger Nilson, is also a qualified doctor and has put Kilpatrick on both antibiotics and a morphine drip to cure the stomach problem and ease the pain. But supplies are limited.
Dalton had already turned his bows early towards the Eclipse Island turning point on the south-west corner of Australia, which is 1,500 miles away from the desolation of the Kerguelen Islands, where the yacht is now. It is out of range of air rescue, but the Australian coastguard and the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination centre are monitoring the case. Dalton was trying to recoup a deficit which has left him behind the leader, Gunnar Krantz in SEB, by 196 miles.
For the rest, the charge south of the last week turned into a quieter climb north for the seven yachts yesterday. Forty-one miles covers the top five and all will want at least to be in touch as they head across the volatile weather systems of the Great Australian Bight over the weekend. Lisa McDonald's all-woman crew of Amer Sports Too is 618 miles adrift.
Another all-woman challenge, Emma Richards and Mikaela von Koskull on the trimaran Pindar Sports, remains determined to finish the Transat Jacques Vabre from Le Havre to Bahia Salvador as backmarkers ahead of them drop like ninepins. But victory was in sight last night for the duo of Alex Bennett and Paul Larsen in their Open 50.
VOLVO OCEAN RACE Second leg: Positions (with miles to finish): 1 SEB (G Krantz) 3,121; 2 illbruck (J Kostecki) 3,137; 3 Assa Abloy (N McDonald) 3,147; 4 djuice (K Frostad) 3,158; 5 News Corp (J Fanstone) 3,162; 6 Amer Sports One (G Dalton) 3,317; 7 Amer Sports Too (L McDonald) 3,739; 8 Tyco (K Shoebridge) retired.