Two rowers participating in what's billed as the "toughest rowing race in the world" are safe after their 24-foot rowboat capsized Sunday in the stormy Atlantic Ocean and left them clinging to a barnacle-encrusted, upturned hull for 16 hours before rescuers could arrive. Rowers Sarah Kessans and Emily Kohl were able to get help by activating their Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), which they had secured from the BoatU.S. EPIRB Rental Program.
At 1649 hours Sunday, January 15 a 406 MHz EPIRB activation alert was picked up by the U.S. Coast Guard. The alert, coming from a location some 1000 miles east of Cuba, was identified as an EPIRB belonging to the BoatU.S. Foundation's Rental Program. Following protocol, rescuers immediately contacted the BoatU.S. 24-hour dispatch center which forwarded the boat and crew details gleaned from the rower's rental registration form.
With the distressed vessel identified, a full-scale search and rescue operation was launched and the tall ship Stravos S. Niarchos, was vectored to the racer's location. After sailing some 120 miles through the night under rough conditions, Stravos S. Niarchos reached Kessans and Kohl, who were cold, tired and disappointed that they wouldn't be completing the race. They were saved by jumping into a life raft that was towed astern of the ship.
"These racers did the right thing long before they left the Canary Islands," said David Carter, manager of the BoatU.S. EPIRB Rental Program. "Having one of our ACR rental EPIRBs aboard is an inexpensive safety precaution that no offshore boater can afford to go without," he continued. It is believed that some open solar fan vents allowed too much seawater to enter the craft to allow it to right after it was knocked down by a wave.
The EPIRB Rental Program is funded by the voluntary contributions of 630,000 BoatU.S. members. EPIRBs can be rented from the Foundation for as little as $50 a week. For more information, call 888-663-7472 or visit http://www.BoatUS.com/foundation/epirb