The sailor who has put tragedy behind him to do the ARC again


You don’t often get overtaken by emotion in this job, but I was choked today talking to David Hitchcock. It was a real honour to meet him; he’s a brave man, a strong one, and I take my hat off to him for taking part in the ARC.

David has crossed the Atlantic three times in his Formosa 51 Toutazimut. The last time was in 2002 when he was sailing in the ARC two-handed with his brother Philip. Philip was knocked overboard and although still attached by his lifeline, David was unable to get him back on board.

Philip died while still attached to the boat and David had the terrible task of cutting his brother’s body loose. Some crew from another ARC yacht transferred on board to help him complete the crossing.

Now, David says simply: “I have put it all behind me,” and that is that. I so admire him for carrying on. This time he’s sailing four-up and says he is looking forward to it – he jokes that he can watch his two young crew running around pulling the ropes while he reads a book.

In St Lucia, David will be presenting the Phillip Hitchcock Memorial trophy, an annual award for the most thoroughly prepared yacht, with the highest standards of safety equipment and safety awareness.