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Yacht Race Sailor Rescued After 1.5 Hours in Freezing Pacific

A British sailor survived one and a half hours in the stormy Pacific Ocean after falling overboard during the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, organizers said Tuesday.

Andrew Taylor, 46, of London, was being treated for severe shock and possible hypothermia after he went over the side of the yacht Derry-Londonderry-Doire in rough weather early Monday.

He spent 90 minutes in the freezing water before the boat could find him and drag him aboard.

“It all happened so quickly,” he told crew members moments after his dramatic rescue in a YouTube interview posted by race organizers. “I didn’t know if you were looking for me or not – didn’t know if you’d seen me. You just got further and further away.”

My hands were so cold,” he said, describing “horrible” hailstones that pelted the area during the rescue mission.

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In a statement on the event website, race director Justin Taylor said: “In these conditions a man overboard is swept away from the boat very quickly and visual contact can be lost in the swell. We have a well-rehearsed procedure to mark the position, stop racing and engaged the engine to search for and recover the crew member as quickly as possible.

“An hour and a half is a very long time to be in the water in these conditions but a combination of his sea survival training and seven months at sea as well as wearing a life jacket and dry suit will have contributed enormously to his survival.”

Taylor's safety tether was attached to him when he was recovered and that officials are investigating why it wasn't attached to the boat, according to an Associated Press report.

The drama happened in the north Pacific as the race vessels were en route to San Francisco, having set sail from China. The race, which began in London in September, is due to return to London to finish in July.

- Alastair Jamieson