Tough Times in Both Hemispheres

Leopard of London is Abandoned in Mid-Atlantic, Orange Clicks off the Miles

April 5, 2002

From a Chris Gray report on the website:

600 miles south-west of England and 400 miles north-east of the Azores, the 90-foot carbon-fiber, Reichel-Pugh-designed, racing sloop, Leopard of London has been abandoned by a delivery crew that had been taking the boat from the Caribbean to the U.K.

Force 8 winds and 23-foot waves had been pounding the yacht when the rudder broke off Tuesday, holing the hull and forcing the crew to send out a distress call that was received by Falmouth (U.K.) coastguards. Two merchant ships responded to the call but sea conditions were such that an immediate transfer of crew was impossible.


By 8pm Thursday, weather conditions had moderated but the crew was losing the battle with the leak in the aft compartment and the main salon was beginning to fill with water. Realizing that more weather was coming and that the vessels standing by would be able to take the crew aboard safely, Australian skipper Chris Sherlock made the decision to abandon.

The crew left Leopard, entered their life rafts and was then picked up by the Liberian-registered cargo ship Kurzeme, which received the 7-man crew aboard and will debark them at La Coruna, Spain.

When the crew abandoned, Leopard was still afloat. An EPIRB was left aboard, still transmitting, and a salvage vessel is on the way to attempt a recovery of the vessel, and is expected to make contact sometime Saturday morning.


Owned by British real-estate developer Michael Slade, Leopard of London set a course record during the around the island race during Cowes Week last year.

Orange, hunkered down under a reefed main and small headsail, still managed to hit 38.6 knots in the Southern Ocean yesterday. Nick Moloney, on the helm at the time, describes just how it felt to be careening at the edge of control, at night, in 40-plus knots of breeze.

“New top speed so far for ORANGE in this Jules Verne attempt set by the
Aussie: 38.6kts.


2 reefs in main and storm jib 35-40kts of wind 115 TWA.

Pitch black night can hardly make out the horizon. Probably wouldn’t have happened if I could have seen where I was going as I most likely wouldn’t have turned our bows down the face of a wave that big.

Apparently if it still stands by the time we reach Brest. I have to buy the crew dinner…..can’t quite work that out???


Time to get some sleep.”


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