Solo-Sailor Loses Record Transatlantic Bid After Boat Sinks Just Hours Into Journey

Solo sailor Olivier Jehl. Credit:
Solo sailor Olivier Jehl. Credit: Bjoern Kils

A solo sailor attempting to break a transatlantic record with his 21-foot sailboat had to be rescued by the Coast Guard just hours into his journey on Sunday.

French sailor Olivier Jehl was attempting to sail the popular yet treacherous route from New York to Lizard Point, England on his 6.5 Mini-class sailing vessel in just 15 days or less. If successful, the journey would have set a North Atlantic sailing record for the smallest boat to make the journey, and in record time.

Olivieri Jehl in New York Harbor on board his 6.5 Mini. Credit:
Olivieri Jehl in New York Harbor on board his 6.5 Mini. Credit: Bjoern Kils

But just hours after departing from New York Harbor on Sunday afternoon, the Coast Guard received an EPIRB alert from Jehl indicating that he was in trouble and in need of rescue.

Jehl passes below the Verrazano Bridge on his record-breaking attempt, May 15, 2016. Credit:
Jehl passes below the Verrazano Bridge on his record-breaking attempt, May 15, 2016. Credit:

A Coast Guard helicopter from Atlantic City, New Jersey arrived at his position just after 6 p.m. Sunday night to discover that his boat had sunk and that he was inside his inflatable raft. 

A look at a tracking map showing Jehl’s last position showed that he made it just 90 miles or so from Atlantic City before he had to be rescued.

Jehl's last position.
Jehl’s last position.

According to the Coast Guard, it appears that his boat may have hit a submerged object, causing it to take on water and sink.

Olivier Jehl, a French sailor, shows off his EPIRB at Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, N.J., Monday, May 16, 2016, after he was rescued by the Coast Guard. Jehl was attempting a solo voyage from New York to the United Kingdom when his 21-foot sailboat struck a submerged object and sank, causing him to use his rescue raft, emergency position-indicating radio beacon and flares. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Nick Ameen)
Olivier Jehl holds up his EPIRB at Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, N.J., Monday, May 16, 2016, after he was rescued by the Coast Guard. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

Despite Jehl’s bad luck in this case, we commend him for his emergency preparedness that without a doubt assisted in his speedy and successful rescue.