In the third stage of the 1982 Tour of the World, Paolo Martinoni falls overboard in the night from aboard the Rolly Go. Skipper Pierre Sicouri recounts Paul’s incredible and successful recovery. A great story of sailing and solidarity
“We’re at 52 degrees South, it’s cold and rolling a lot, but spirits are high. Outside the wind has dropped, we are in the eye of the low…Suddenly I hear a terrible scream from Jacopo:
Paul, Paul is at sea! Has fallen into the sea!
…off-deck splash. The total darkness, the flapping sails, the spray washing over me, and the bitter cold give me the measure of the disaster. At the stern two are struggling with one of the lifebuoys but the buoy is caught….
So Paul is without a life preserver.
I take the helm and Jacopo gives me the previous course and we reverse it 180°. “He was catapulted overboard by the jib sheet.” “Start the engine! Without heating the glow plugs! where is it? Watch with flashes! … I have a tremendous knot in my stomach. We are skirting an immense ravine; we are on the brink of disaster. Of the five men who fell overboard during last Whitbread only one was rescued, and none was rescued at night.
But we have to save Paul.
We are saving him…Out of nowhere comes Paul’s voice: “This way, this way!” It’s a miracle! But the boat is very fast and we can’t stop it. We literally pass over Paul without seeing him…. he is the one who shows us what to do. “Left, puggia, over here, over hereaaa!” .
He is basically saving himself….
we pass by him and finally manage to throw him a life jacket with a flashing light…we have to be quick, at this latitude water survival is 12 minutes…a line and we pull him against the side…thanks to his exceptional physique, he slowly recovers…
I hug him very tightly, I don’t know how to express my gratitude to him for saving his life and my happiness.”
WHO IS PIERRE SICOURI
Pierre Sicouri, who passed away in 2009, was a great sailor and wrote for iI Giornale della Vela memorable pages of his oceanic adventures with Giorgio Falck’s boats. Great sailors also in the whole family, his wife Paola accompanied him to the oceans, and their daughter Silvia will participate in the 2016 Rio Olympics.