SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A British sailor missing at sea for 90 minutes in the North Pacific returns to dry land Friday in San Francisco, after one of the most harrowing sea rescues to be caught on tape.
The Clipper Round The World fleet is crossing under the Golden Gate bridge this week, finishing the China to San Francisco leg of a round-the-world yacht race. The large cutter-rigged sailing vessels have spent at least 25 days at sea, crossing the largest expanse of water in the world.
While they aren’t in the lead on the race, all eyes will be on Derry “Londonderry” Doire — the name of the yacht and team that lost one of their own – and then miraculously found him amid towering waves and frigid conditions.
Calm winds have slowed the vessel, and it is now off the Marin Headlands coast, moving south toward the San Francisco Bay finish line at about 3 miles per hour.
TRACK THE RACE: Interactive Map Showing Boat Positions
Andrew Taylor was changing a sail on the Clipper 70 class yacht, and had forgotten to re-clip his harness onto the life lines when a freak wave washed him overboard. He hit the rudder, and was quickly lost in the 52-degree water. Winds were above 35 miles per hour, and waves topped 19 feet at the time, making it impossible to maintain eye contact with the crew member.
“I never contemplated I would die. I did consider whether the boat would find me,” the 46-year-old told the Associated Press via satellite phone.
“I just want to express my gratitude to the team for their work and effort,” said Taylor. “It was a traumatic experience for everyone, for the crew as well as for me in the water.”
The boats and the sailors will be meeting fans and talking about their stories of the high seas at next week in the “Open Boat Tour,” starting April 15th at South Beach Yacht Club, Pier 40.
SEE THE BOATS, MEET THE SAILORS: San Francisco Events For The Clipper Race
VIDEO: CBS News Video Of The Rescue
THE STORY OF THE RESCUE: Daily Mail Account Of The Rescue