Yachtsman diverts course to search for missing Canadian sailor
Jan. 16, 1997
A satellite-radar search failed to turn up a missing Canadian sailor competing in a round-the-world solo yacht race, and another racer headed to the area today to look for him.
Gerry Roufs was last heard from on Jan. 7. He was believed to be in an area southeast of New Zealand and southwest of Tahiti _ too far from land to mount an air search.
A satellite search Sunday turned up 18 possible sites where Roufs' boat could be stranded, but a passing Indian cargo ship that diverted to the area found nothing and continued on its route, organizers of the Paris-based Vendee Globe race said.
Eric Dumont of France, another sailor in the race, was headed to the area to search for Roufs and expected to arrive tonight. Already, he said, the winds were reaching 50 mph.
``I'm on the course of Gerry's last position,'' Dumont wrote from his boat in comments posted on the Internet. ``The sea is very strong and there are breaking waves. One of them knocked me down.''
Organizers also said the radar satellite would take more images of the area today in an effort to find anything that looked like a boat.
Three yachtsmen already have been rescued during the Vendee Globe race, which began in France last November.
France's Raphael Dinelli wrecked in foul weather southwest of Australia and was saved by the Australian military on Dec. 26.
On Jan. 5, two sailors _ Briton Tony Bullimore and Frenchman Thierry Dubois _ capsized separately in a fierce storm 2,000 miles southwest of Australia and only 1,000 miles north of Antarctica.
They were rescued Jan. 9, and arrived in Australia on Monday aboard an Australian warship. Bullimore had spent four days in an air pocket of his overturned yacht; Dubois had waited for a day in his sinking boat, then for three more days in a life raft thrown from a plane.
Roufs, 43, began sailing when he was eight, and in 1995 he won the Euro-Star 1 transatlantic race. A lawyer when he isn't racing, Roufs lives in Montreal with his wife and 8-year-old daughter.
In comments posted on the Internet, other sailors in the race were concerned about Roufs.
``I was really anguished during the different shipwrecks,'' wrote French sailor Catherine Chabaud. ``I'm very worried for Gerry.''
But some competitors held out hope.
``Maybe all his means of communication aren't working because of the storm he passed through, and he hasn't realized that his electronic beacon has stopped working,'' Yves Parlier, another French racer, wrote. ``But it's a meager hope.''