Originally created 02/16/99

Around Alone yachtswoman capsizes in storm in southern Pacific



WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Around Alone yachtswoman Isabelle Autissier has capsized and taken to a life raft in the Southern Pacific Ocean, race organizer Dan McConnell said Tuesday.

Autissier, overall leader in the single-handed round-the-world race, had sent out a mayday call and advised her French headquarters, McConnell said.

He said Italian entrant Giovanni Soldini has been diverted to help Autissier and was 160 miles away from her. Autissier had been capsized in windy 30-foot seas halfway between New Zealand and Cape Horn, the southern tip of South America. She was about 2,500 miles from both points.

"There is no land that is reasonably reachable so the other boats are the only option," McConnell said.

He said Autissier had "experienced this before" when she was rescued by the Australian Navy during a solo race in 1994-95.

"She stays calm in these conditions, so we're thinking the best," McConnell said.