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Tragedy strikes cruisers’ event

DEC. 17 — A harrowing day of sea rescues last Friday has taken a sobering turn for the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers rally with the unexpected death of a participant.

John Thompson, 54, and skipper of the yacht Avocet died on Dec. 10 after sustaining serious head injuries when he was struck with his sail boom, according to a news report from the World Cruising Club, organizers of the rally.

“We are all deeply saddened by the news of John’s death in this tragic sailing accident and send our condolences and prayers to his family,” said Andrew Bishop, managing director of WCC, in the report. “Despite this being such a difficult time for them, I know that they take some comfort from the fact that John died participating in the sport he loved.”

Avocet was one of more than 200 yachts that set off from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on Nov. 25 to sail 2,700 nautical miles to St. Lucia. After the accident, his crew called for help and the MaritimeRescueCoordinationCenter in Martinique contacted several vessels, with no response. Finally, the cruise ship Costa Mediterranea responded and Thompson was transferred aboard accompanied by his son Daniel in the wee hours of the following day, according to the report. Thompson was immediately transferred to a hospital when they reached Barbados, but he did not recover from his injuries and died late Thursday night, with his family around him.

The remaining four crew of the Avocet continued to sail onto St. Lucia and was expected to reach their destination on Friday. ARC is one of the largest trans-oceanic sailing events in the world.

— Elizabeth Ellis