77-year-old Japanese sailor rescued

As Robin Knox-Johnston’s completion of the Velux 5 Oceans race in Bilbao makes headlines over the weekend, another “senior sailor” has had to be rescued off Tasmania. On Sunday morning (0300 GMT) a rescue helicopter winched a 77-year-old Japanese sailor from the ocean off south-west Tasmania after he abandoned a world-record attempt.

Ikuo Kashima left Japan nine months ago in an attempt to become the oldest sailor to sail solo around the world, unassisted, without stopping – a feat first accomplished by Sir Robin 40 years ago.

Tracy Higgins from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said Kashima struck problems overnight when his 12m (43ft) yacht Koraasa77 was disabled by a freak wave in the Southern Ocean about 60 miles south-west of Tasmania.

A Police Rescue helicopter pilot told the Sunday Tasmanian newspaper that conditions in the area were “savage” with winds blowing between 57 and 70 knots.

Kashima, who speaks no english, made a distress call via satellite phone to Japanese authorities, who alerted Australian officials. The entire rescue was carried out via an interpreter in Hobart.

A police helicopter winched him to safety at about 1:00pm local time (0300GMT) and he was taken to a Hobart hospital with leg and back injuries.