Jason Carrington, bowman on the VOR yacht Assa Abloy, fell ill during the third leg of the race from Sydney, via Hobart to Auckland. Although he did recover enough to finish the leg, it caused great concern for the rest of the team who had to cope with the situation while continuing to race the boat hard to retain their leading position to Auckland.
I understand you collapsed on deck, tell me what happened during that time and what was the cause of the problem?
Yes, it was a bit worrying but fortunately we’d just completed a sail change so I managed to go below as soon as I could. I had griping stomach and kidney pains, found it really difficult to pass water and when I did it was blood stained. Obviously the medic on board got straight on to the case and, with a lot of consultation with the doctors on shore, the condition was diagnosed as a urine infection caused through exhaustion and dehydration.
Did you have any doubts about recovering before the finish of the race?
No, not really because the condition was diagnosed immediately and I had all the right medication from the start so I always felt pretty happy with the treatment.
Did you have any indication of illness before you left Sydney?
No, I was feeling a bit run-down during the Sydney-Hobart race because it was a tough and we all got very little sleep. I think a combination of the stress, lack of sleep and dehydration were the main causes of the infection.
What is it like to be to bunk-bound while you team mates are fighting for a win?
Pretty tough. As well as feeling ill, there’s an awful feeling of letting the others down.
How did Neal [McDonald -skipper] cope with the situation?
In his usual laid-back way [he says laughing] ‘Hurry up and get better,’ he said, ‘I need you back on deck.’ I had no choice really!
There was talk of you being taken off the boat at Cape Reinga, when was it decided you could stay on board?
I was fairly ill about 500-600 miles from the Cape but once the strong antibiotics started to kick in – after a couple of hundred miles – I started to feel better and there was no way I wanted to leave the boat. Also Dalton was not that far behind and we would have risked losing our position if we’d had to make a detour. Obviously if it was a matter of life and death it would have been a different story.
But what about winning. That must have been a real boost for you, particularly with Neal at the helm?
Yes, it was great for us, it was good timing because we had two bad legs and I think if we’d have had another bad leg it would have been tough to come back from.
What went wrong after your initial lead from Cape Town on the Southern Ocean leg?
Unfortunately it started well but we lost it all coming in to Eclipse Island and then made another shocker at King Island coming in to the Bass Strait. Our lead in to Auckland was particularly important to us.
Was going north on the stretch from Hobart to Auckland the key to your success?
Yes, we were certainly in the right spot. The plan was always to be the northern-most boat probably not as far north as we ended up, however. This was due to a big wind shift coming through that we weren’t really ready for. We’d just set a chute and were fully stacked so it took quite a while before we could gybe. In the end going even further north turned out to be a good thing.
Have most of your crew flown home during this stopover?
Mostly, but there are a few who are taking time off in New Zealand.
What are your views on Roy Heiner as skipper of the first two legs of the race?