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Radio silence

NOV. 15 — Nearly 10 years after being rescued from the Southern Ocean during the Vendee Globe around-the-world yacht race, British sailor Tony Bullimore may have gone missing again aboard his 102-foot catamaran, Doha 2006.

Bullimore’s shore team Monday called for an all-ships alert for commercial vessels to try to locate the 67-year-old sailor in the Indian Ocean, team spokesperson Barry Pickthall says in an interview with Soundings. Bullimore has not been heard from since Nov. 6.

“I’m almost certain that some newly installed communications equipment on his yacht has malfunctioned, and that he is not in danger,” Pickthall says. “[On Nov. 6] I received a message from him. I heard one, ‘Hello’ and then it crackled out. That was the end of it.

“He’s having problems with the phone,” Pickthall continues. “He’s still out there.”

Bullimore set off from Doha, Qatar, for Hobart in Tasmania where he is expected to begin an attempt to beat the record set by Ellen MacArthur — 71 days — for sailing around the world, according to information on his team Web site. Bullimore plans to make the 27,000-mile solo circumnavigation in 70 days.

In January 1997 Bullimore spent five days trapped in the hull of his capsized yacht, Exide Challenge, in the Southern Ocean during the Vendee Globe. Bullimore survived by resting in a makeshift hammock suspended centimeters above the icy water.

Despite the lack of communication Pickthall says he is confident Bullimore will arrive in Fremantle, Australia, in the next few days.

“He has three EPIRBs on board and none of them have been activated,” says Pickthall. If we haven’t heard from him in a week’s time then I’ll start to worry.”

— Jason Fell