AlphaGraphics crew member Asia Pajkovska was washed overboard during a violent knockdown last night on the third leg of the EDS Atlantic Challenge

The following report was received from AlphaGraphics skipper Helena Darvelid this morning. It describes how crew member Asia Pajkovska, 38, was lost overboard during a violent knockdown. Darvelid indicates that Pajkovska was wearing a harness at the time.

“Hi everyone,

Life onboard AlphaG is very important to us, as we have all realised even more so since last night. We were sailing with just a staysail and no main, since the wind and seas were still very high and there were some squalls and breaking waves on the beam. Asia was up on deck to view the situation and was thinking conditions were getting better.

I was half a sleep, thinking ‘I need to get up on watch in a minute,’ when I got flung out of my bunk on the windward side and tossed across the cabin, rolled over the galley and landed in the corner in a heap.

This was a slow motion experience and during this time I could see Carol’s face standing in the companionway hatch looking at me with horror, and I also remember thinking to protect my head. Seconds later I stood up. “I’m alright. What happened?”

Carol was out the hatch like a rocket I could hear her first words: “Oh my God!” I was imagining what she was about to say ‘The rig has come down’ and thinking I can cope with that, but her words said something else: “Oh my God, Asia is in the water!”

Yet again I was thinking ‘I can cope with that because she is still clipped on to the boat.’ I looked out and all I could see was this red dot disappearing in the distance. This is the worst case scenario.

“Everyone on deck!” I was screaming to Carol to turn the engine on. We gybed around and started to head for Asia. The wind was so strong it was difficult to get to windward of her. Amie was keeping a look out and Fred and Carol were preparing ropes, liferings, poles and anything else they could get their hands on.

Amie was encouraging Asia to swim and stay with us, ‘We will get you!’ Getting close to her was difficult. We managed a couple of times to get right next to her but the boat would accelerate and go away from her again.

We must have tried about six or seven times before we finally got a line around her and she was dragging behind the boat. Carol got the staysail down to slow the boat and we all got on the aft deck to haul her out of the water.

She was exhausted and we were ecstatic to have got her back. I gave her a big kiss and said: “There was no way we were going to leave you behind, no way.” She is safely on the boat and feeling a bit like she has been through the washing machine, but most important we have got a crew of five on the boat.

I’m bruised, battered and a very shaken up but feeling very lucky that we are all well and safe.

Sail safe to all of you.

Helena. X

Event summaryName of crew member – Asia PajkovskaTime of incident – 1940hrs 18 JulyTime of recovery – 2000hrs 18 JulyPosition – 45.44N 11.20WWeather – High seas, daylight, winds 30-35 knotsDamage to yacht – noneInjuries sustained – none