British solo skipper Ian Herbert-Jones has activated his EPIRB while in a serious storm in the South Atlantic whilst sailing in the Golden Globe Race: rescue underway

UPDATED: Golden Globe Race organisers have issued a ‘Code Red’ update after British solo skipper Ian Herbert-Jones activated his EPIRB while in a serious storm in the South Atlantic.

Winds are understood to be over 50 knots, with estimated gusts of 70-88 knots, and the sea state is believed to be around 6.5-7.5m.

Puffin, Herbert-Jones’s Tradewind 35 has been rolled and dismasted, and Herbert-Jones has a cut to his head and a back injury. The Argentinian MRCC are co-ordinating a rescue.

A post on the Golden Globe Race Facebook page by the organisers at around 2000hrs BST first reported the situation:

“SITUATION : PUFFIN has activated his EPIRB….GGR TRACKING now set at 15 minutes. At 1540UTC Ian Herbert Jones SKIPPER PUFFIN rang GGR on Iridium phone to advise that he was in extreme weather with no sail up trying to hand steer downwind , the yacht was laid over often …There was a small amount of water down below. It was a bad connection and I lost contact.

“At 1550UTC IAN called again…he had activated his EPIRB , could not launch his drogue as the cockpit hatch was underwater, was under bare poles, had been washed out of the cockpit twice and was struggling to keep the boat sailing down wind.

“He explained he activated the EPIRB as he could not initially make Iridium phone contact and wanted someone to know his situation. I advised him he must launch his drogue if possible to assist down wind control…and that the extreme weather will last at least another five hours. He is trying to do that.

“There is only 8 inches of water over the cabin sole. He thinks this is leakage through the cockpit…the manual bilge pump is working so he is not sinking. The mast is secure. All safety equipment onboard is secure. His electrical system is low in power.

Ian Herbert Jones (52) is sailing a Tradewind 35 Puffin, here pictured at the race’s Lanzarote Film Drop. Photo: Nora Havel / GGR2022

“I asked him to call again in one hour. Approx 1700UTC. He is using the iridium phone in the cockpit. MRCC may have trouble trying to ring him because of the noise and he may switch off the phone between contacts. I advised him to leave the EPIRB on. The activated EPIRB is listed as coming from his abandoned ship GRAB bag…this is unusual and I believe a mistake. He is on the boat and it would be the EPIRB from in the Yachts cabin….he has NOT abandoned the ship.

“I made Ian aware that he needs to manage this extreme weather best possible until it starts to drop in five hours.

“SITUATION : ALERT BUTTON ON YB3 Manually Pressed. ACTIVATED! At 1725UTC Message received at GGR from PUFFIN YELLOW-BRICK YB3 satellite tracking and texting unit advising ” Button ALERT…. 46., 57.250S 037, 12.382W ” This means that Ian has manually gone to the YB3 unit and manually lifted a safety cover and pressed the distress alert button of the YB3 Satellite texting unit.

“This is recognised by GGR as a distress protocol for all GGR entrants. This would suggest he is definitely in a distress situation. He had not called GGR at the requested 1 hour update time. He was 25 Minutes overdue from that requested Phone Update. At the time of the ALERT BUTTON activation the Windy forecast weather was SW40Kt Gusting 88Kt and 7.7mtr SEA.

Ian Herbert-Jones Golden Globe Race rescue EPIRB storm

A screen grab issued by Golden Globe Race organisers to show Herbert-Jones’ position and forecast conditions on April 10, 2023.

“MRCC Argentina is now managing the Rescue operation. Further updates as they come available.”

At around 2100hrs this evening the Facebook page for Ian Herbert-Jones’ Golden Globe Race entry posted: “UPDATE – Ian has made contact with GGR – Puffin rolled, she is dismasted, he has injured his back and it’s hard to move, there’s 2ft of water in the cabin, the situation is worsening and he needs a weather break to cut the rig free………we are waiting further updates via GGR from MRCC who are coordinating the rescue – we’re all with you Ian”

At 2200hrs the Golden Globe organisers confirmed that Herbert-Jones had been rolled, dismasted, was injured, and Puffin had taken on water:

“UPDATE FR/ENG : Position @ 1842 UTC 46° 54.24S, 037° 12.604W Vessel GPS SOG 3.4 & Heading: @ 36.85

Weather: SW 50 knots, gusting 70 knots 6.5M SEA


1842 UTC PUFFIN YB3 TEXT message received – Rolled Dismasted , injured Back, hard to move, 2ft water in boat.

1844 UTC PUFFIN YB3 TEXT Message received – Situation getting worse..need weather break to cut rig from PUFFIN.

“MRCC Argentina are co-ordinating the RESCUE efforts. There is a ship close by they are attempting to contact. at 2125UTC he rang to advise he has stopped the water ingress into the boat. He is part way through cutting the rig away in extreme conditions as it is impacting the hull. He had also gashed his head and his back is getting stiff. 

“A full report will be released in the next hour or so. We thank all those currently assisting with Ian’s recovery.”

Ian Herbert-Jones is currently approximately 1,200 miles east of Argentina. He is the last competitor in the solo ‘retro’ Golden Globe Race, which set off in September 2022. 

Herbert-Jones was sailing in the ‘Chichester’ division after previously making a stop in Tierra de Fuego to repair his steering gear. On the approach to Cape Horn last month, he experienced some of the worst conditions of any competitor in the 2022 Golden Globe Race, with several days of intense storms as he approached Cape Horn including 60-knot gusts and 7 metres seas.

As the last competitor in the race, Herbert-Jones was later to round Cape Horn. Speaking to our sister title Yachting Monthly in February ahead of the rounding he said: ‘I do not mind admitting at all that I am very apprehensive [about rounding Cape Horn so late in the season]. I know it can get serious very quickly down there.’

Ian Herbert-Jones leaving the anchorage off Cape Horn where he had made repairs to Puffin before resuming the solo Golden Globe Race in ‘Chichester’ division. Photo: GGR

Having made repairs he restarted from southernmost Argentina at the end of March. His nearest fellow solo skipper, Jeremy Bagshaw, is over 1600 miles north.

Herbert-Jones, from Shropshire, England, is sailing Puffin, a Tradewind 35 cutter. Puffin had previously finished the 2018 Golden Globe Race in 4th place for skipper Istvan Kopar, despite steering issues and several knockdowns.

Herbert-Jones had previously completed a circumnavigate with the crewed Clipper Round the World Race and was formerly an engineer in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in the British Army.