Sponsored by Ocean Signal, solo sailor Lizzy Foreman has highlighted the importance of safety equipment for all mariners following a successful debut in this year’s Mini Transat Iles de Guadeloupe.
The 25-year-old, who finished as the first female and the first Briton overall in the Series class and in 31st place out of 46 entries, faced frightening night-time squalls and winds gusting to 35 knots during the 4,020 nm race.
After the race, Lizzy advised all boaters to ‘not think twice’ about carrying safety equipment and said she derived confidence and peace of mind due to the added security provided by her Ocean Signal SafeSea® E100G EPIRB, rescueME PLB1 and SafeSea S100 SART.
Lizzy commented: “I considered all three Ocean Signal devices absolutely essential, particularly for the Mini Transat event. We are not allowed to carry satellite phones and are thousands of miles away from land - too far for helicopter rescue. This means we are reliant upon cargo ships and other boats for rescue. Without these devices, the chances of being rescued are extremely slim.
“I always wore my lifejacket with my PLB attached, suffering quite a few scary moments during the race. I faced a lot of squalls, often at night time, when winds of 35 knots would try to destroy my sails and the boat would be tipped right on to its side. Knowing exactly where my EPIRB was, easily accessed from either inside or outside the boat, certainly brought confidence when fears such as losing the keel or mast cross your mind
“My advice to boaters about investing in safety is ‘Don't think twice - not taking safety products would be a foolish mistake’. Considering the expenses of running a sailing boat, purchasing safety products are a minor spend - and yet could save your life.”
Racing in Hudson Wight, her 10-year-old 6.5m Series Mini boat, Lizzy completed the 1250nm first leg from France to Lanzarote in 9 days and 13 hours, before taking 19 days to reach Guadeloupe on the 2,770 Leg 2.
The second leg proved particularly testing for Lizzy as just 15 minutes into the race her medium kite ripped at the clew and along the reef, rending the sail beyond repair. Two hours later, her ‘Code 5’ spinnaker also tore. A tactical decision to dive south with 1000nm remaining proved to be a mistake as the stronger trade winds did not materialise. Lizzy then lost her one remaining spinnaker over the back of the boat in a short squall, before light winds combined with intense squalls, as well as heat stroke, ensured a difficult finish.
Hailing her overall Mini Transat experience as “incredible”, Lizzy admitted that there were some terrifying moments when the easy access to her Ocean Signal safety products proved particularly reassuring.
“I was close by to a rescue situation during the race when a competitor had to abandon his sinking boat which really made me realise how vulnerable we can be out there,” she added.
“I was very pleased with the Ocean Signal PLB. I had the device attached to my life jacket at all times during the Mini Transat, inside a spinlock Chest Pack. The device is very easy to handle and simple to operate in emergency situations, and is waterproof to 15m with a flotation pouch provided - peace of mind in case you drop it accidentally!
“The SART S100, being lightweight and compact, fitted easily on the launching ramp for my liferaft. This meant that in case of capsize, I would still be able to launch my liferaft and access the SART without having to swim under and into the boat. The SART is a dedicated radar transponder, designed to assist in the rescue of liferafts. I decided to take one in case I was in a situation where I was unable to activate my EPIRB or had to abandon the boat in the liferaft.
“My Ocean Signal EPIRB was mounted under the battery box, as it was compact and easy to do so. The quick release bracket ensured it would be easy to access the EPIRB in an emergency, with a 48-hour plus battery life.”
Lizzy is now aiming to compete in the Mini class in the 2016 Les Sables - Azores - Les Sables race and the 2017 Transat, before moving on to a Class 40 for the 2018 Route du Rhum.
The 2015 edition of the biennial Mini Transat started in October 2015 in Douarnenez (France), with a stopover in Lanzarote (the Canary Islands) before the finishing line in Guadeloupe in the Caribbean.
The SafeSea E100G EPIRB, rescueME PLB1, SafeSea S100 SART and further Ocean Signal products including the rescueME MOB1 and rescueME EDF1 electronic distress flare are available at this year’s London Boat Show from 8th to 17th January on Marine Super Store Stand (A011/A012/A020) and Cactus Stand C021.