Global Challenge yacht Team Stelmar is forced to return to South America after a crewman breaks his arm

Team Stelmar have stopped racing today (13th December 2004) and have altered course to seek medical assistance for Crew Volunteer Tim Johnston. Unfortunately, Tim broke his upper arm while working on the foredeck of Team Stelmar in difficult conditions. All the other Crew Volunteers aboard Team Stelmar, and the other 11 yachts competing, are reported to be safe and well.

Tim sustained the injury whilst in the pulpit, forward of the forestay, when a very large (freak) wave broke over the bow and washed him onto the forestay with great force. The yacht immediately altered course downwind so that Tim could be moved below.

After consultation between the onboard medic Dr Ruth Newton, the Accident and Emergency Unit at Derriford hospital in Plymouth (UK) and Challenge Business’ fleet Medical Officer, Dr Spike Briggs, the decision was taken to seek further medical assistance for Tim. Because there are so few shipping movements in the Southern Ocean and because of the difficulties of transferring an injured person even if a ship were available, the decision was made to head back to South America.

Team Stelmar ceased racing at approximately 17:30 GMT [yesterday], and altered course to head east towards southern Chile and Cape Horn. It is estimated that it will take between 5 and 7 days to reach either Puerto Williams, Ushuaia near Cape Horn or Valdivia on the west coast of Chile, but the weather conditions over the coming days will determine which port is chosen.

Tim is reported to be in a comfortable condition, being looked after as best as is possible by his crewmates.