The crew of the 2023 Ocean Globe Race yacht, Outlaw, spotted the man drifting in a 20ft canoe with outboard engine, 90nm from Dakar, Senegal

A lone man has been discovered drifting 90 miles offshore in a canoe by the Ocean Globe Race team, Outlaw.

The 11-strong crew were racing in the first leg of the race from Southampton to Cape Town when they spotted the man in a 20ft canoe with an outboard engine, 90nm off Dakar.

He spoke no English or French, had no water, no fishing gear or radio and only two small cans of fuel. The man indicated he had been without food and water for five days.

A man on a canoe which approached the Ocean Globe Race boat, Outlaw 90 miles off Dakar

This close up photo of the man has now been passed to Senegal/Dakar MRCC. Credit: Outlaw/OGR 2023

This area is known for piracy, although this is mainly targeted towards commercial boats, however, the Australian skipper of the Balitc 55, Outlaw, Campbell Mackie decided to provide food and water to the man, but not to take him onboard.

Instead, the crew decided to tow the canoe towards Dakar. The sea state at the time was benign.

Mackie immediately informed Ocean Globe Race HQ, which contacted Senegal/Dakar MRCC, MRCC Dakar, JRCC/Maritime and Senegal Coast Guard asking for assistance.

The crew of Outlaw began making Pan Pan calls every hour, and at 14;50UTC yesterday, the 220m oil tanker, ChemTrans Sea came to their aid.

People wearing lifejackets sailing a boat at sea

The Baltic 55, Outlaw was previously raced in the 1985 Whitbread Race. Credit: Outlaw Team

However, due to the oil tanker’s piracy protocol, the crew were not able to take the man onboard.

Instead, Senegal/Dakar MRCC gave the crew of Outlaw GPS coordinates to a rendezvous point, within a mile of the coast, where the man would be recovered by the crew of a government vessel.

Instead, the man was recovered by the crew of another unknown vessel, which arrived at the location.

The man was transferred to the unknown boat and the towing lines from the canoe to Outlaw were cut before the unknown boat headed back out to sea.

Continues below…

Senegal/Dakar MRCC was notified immediately, and a photograph of the man taken by the crew has been passed to them.

“We will never know what the outcome is but it is certainly very suspicious and strange,” said Ocean Globe Race founder, Don McIntyre.

“Everyone on Outlaw is fine and we will now have to work out the time compensation for Outlaw. The crew did a great job. They may very well have saved that guy’s life, we won’t know, but the crew handled themselves very well,” he added.

Meanwhile, fellow Adventure Class crew, Godspeed (USA) are now back racing their Swan 51 – the smallest boat in the race – having stopped in Cascais in Portugal for three days last week to fix a six-inch crack in their boom. The Notice of Race forbids any outside assistance.

After full consideration, Ocean Globe Race Control has decided that Godspeed will not be considered in any official ranking of Leg 1 of the race, but will remain as a full entrant and be considered as an official finisher of Leg 1 when they dock in Cape Town.

A yacht with a blue sail

The crew of Sterna/All Spice Yachting broke a spinnaker pole while surfing in 20-3m swells. Credit: Katy Stickland

Equipment damage has also affected the crew of the South African entrant, Sterna/All Spice Yachting after a major broach under spinnaker – which saw the spinnaker fill with water and the boat pinned down for seven minutes. It has left them with a broken spinnaker pole.

The wind was gusting 25-3o knots at the time; the crew have been frustrated recently due to the light conditions they have been experiencing but were beginning to pick up speed, surfing in the 2-3m swells when the broach happened.

Sterna – which is racing in the Adventure Class is now being sailed with two reefs in their main and a full genoa instead of their S4.

First mate of the Swan 53, Melissa Du Toit, said: “Things have been so slow that we reefed a bit too late and we had a bit of a bad broach and broke the spinnaker pole in two, so we’ve now got two reefs in the main instead of flying the S4, but everyone is OK and it is all good.”


The skipper of the Swan 55 Gailana WithSecure, Tapio Lehtinen is also warning of the dangers of working with spinnaker lines, after a crew member, Viivi Moisio suffered a bad rope burn.

“We had a small accident hoisting the spinnaker. Viivi was tailing the halyard of the spinnaker when it slipped from the winch and  burnt her palms but luckily only got some blisters; there is no open wound, but of course, it hurts. She is normally the happiest member of the crew but now she is a bit quiet. She is now off-watch to take it easy and take care of her hands,” said Lehtinen.

“It is a good reminder for everyone sailing at these latitudes that you need to be super, super careful not to get any burns or even the smallest scratches can get inflamed really quickly. So far, she is just fine, and we will take good care of her,” he added.

The swan 55 yacht Galiana sailing on the solent

Most of the crew of Galiana WithSecure are under the age of 30. Skipper Tapio Lehtinen hopes the Ocean Globe Race will nurture young Fninish sailing talent. Credit: Aida Valceanu/OGR 2023

Gailana WithSecure’s crew are, like the other entrants, now planning to enter the Doldrums. Lehtinen said he was getting patchy weather reports via the boat’s weather fax; the Ocean Globe Race is a retro race to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1973 Whitbread Round the World Race – all the crews have to race using no modern equipment including computers and GPS.

“We do have the French High Sea weather forecast which has been translated and relayed to us but it is not matching up with the readings on my barometer. We are desperately trying to interpret the clouds around us and looking at the weather books to try and understand what is happening. We are just trying to keep the wind and to keep moving.  I am not sure what the plans are yet for the Doldrums but we will keep maybe at 27° for the crossing. We are planning to take the western route around the South Atlantic High,” said Lehtinen.

Positions of the 2023 Ocean Globe Race fleet – Leg One: Southampton to Cape Town at 1200 UTC on 27 September 2023. These positions will change under the IRC rating

Pen Duick VI (France)
Maiden (UK)
Translated 9 (Italy)
Spirit of Helsinki (Finland)
L’Esprit d’Equipe (France)
Neptune (France)
Triana (France)
Galiana with Secure (Finland)
Outlaw (Australia)
Evrika (France)
White Shadow (Spain)
Sterna (South Africa)
Explorer (Australia)
Godspeed (USA)

Enjoyed reading Ocean Globe Race 2023: Outlaw crew discover man stranded in a canoe, 90nm offshore?

A subscription to Practical Boat Owner magazine costs around 40% less than the cover price.

Print and digital editions are available through Magazines Direct – where you can also find the latest deals.

PBO is packed with information to help you get the most from boat ownership – whether sail or power.

        • Take your DIY skills to the next level with trusted advice on boat maintenance and repairs
        • Impartial in-depth gear reviews
        • Practical cruising tips for making the most of your time afloat

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter