Yesterday, US businessman and life long-sailor and entrant in tomorrow's Round Ireland Race, George David, met one of the men who saved his life off the Cork coast five years ago.
George’s 100 foot yacht, Rambler 100, capsized during the 2011 Fastnet Race. See photos of Rambler100's capsize here
George and seven other of the 21 crew members were hurtled overboard, where they remained stranded in freezing waters for over three hours.
US businessman and life long-sailor, George David, pictured right with Pat Collins, one of the Baltimore lifeboat crew, who saved his life after his yacht capsized during the 2011 Fastnet Race.
Following a dramatic air and sea rescue by the Baltimore RNLI and the Irish Coastguard, George vowed that he would one day return to Ireland to compete in the 704-mile Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race as a tribute to the people of Ireland.
He has come good on his promise and has arrived ahead of Saturday’s race start from Wicklow Bay with his latest racing boat, Rambler 88.
George joined the hundreds of crew from the record 64-strong Volvo Round Ireland fleet for a special welcome reception in Dún Laoghaire’s Royal Irish Yacht Club on Thursday evening.
He received a hero’s welcome, but remained philosophical about his experience:
“When you’re in trouble it is what it is. We had 21 people sailing and 21 people survived. We think about these things intellectually. It was very important that the entire team was amazingly calm in the face of adversity.”
Pat Collins was one of the Baltimore lifeboat team who rescued George and his crew. He recalled the difficulty in locating Rambler amid the foggy conditions on the evening: “Everything happened so fast. We were getting no response from Rambler. Five of the crew had drifted away and had spent hours in the water. The outcome could have been very different.”
George aboard Rambler is a strong contender to break the Volvo Round Ireland Race record of two days, 17 hours, 48 minutes and 47 seconds which was achieved by Mike Slade in ICAP Leopard 3 in 2008.
However George says that after many years in business he has learned to “under-promise and out-perform.”
“I have good expectations but actuals always exceed expectations. I would rather look back at a successful race than to promise something that might or might not happen. But I think we’re ready”
Race organiser Theo Phelan said George’s decision to return to Ireland for the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland is a huge honour for the race and for the people of Ireland.
“The efforts of the Irish rescue services in locating and bringing to safety George and his crew after three hours in the water, is a matter which raised his interest in finding a suitable offshore event for a return to the country for which he has enormous regard and appreciation.”