Judy Lawson, the Annapolis sailor who set out June 7 to break the women's record in a singlehanded race across the Atlantic, has been rescued from her disabled boat 300 miles off the eastern tip of Nova Scotia.
Lawson's 31-foot sloop, Serta Perfectsleeper, was dismasted, apparently in squalls last weekend. Lawson was found drifting in the disabled craft by Canadian and U.S. rescue search aircraft Tuesday afternoon. She was picked up by a passing ship and reportedly is in good health.
"She was lucky," said Capt. Ken Woodman, navigator aboard the Canadian aircraft that helped in the rescue. "We weren't briefed to look for her, so she apparaently had not been able to get a distress message out before she was dismasted."
But a second disabled boat in the Observer Singlehanded Transatlantic Race had filed a distress call from the same area.
Lawson was spotted by a U.S. plane searching for the 36-foot Italian trimaran Mattia III.
The Canadian plane was called in to assist, Woodman said he saw Lawson sitting comfortably on deck as the boat bobbed in moderate seas. The Canadians located a nearby merchant vessel, the 650-foot freighter Care, from Singapore, and directed it 30 miles off course to pick up Lawson.
Race organizers said Lawson apparently has abandoned her yacht.
There has been no contact with the M/V Care since Lawson was picked up. Woodman said the airplanes were unable to raise the Care by radio and had to direct the big ship to the rescue by smoke flares. No one has been able to raise her since by radio. She is heading for Gibraltar.
The Mattia III, with Capt. Antonio Chibatto aboard, was located by search aircraft in the same area yesterday. The boat had capsized and her skipper was clinging to the hull.
OSTAR race organizers in Newport, R.I., said rescuers dropped a radio to the trimaran's skipper, who reported he had been hanging onto the upturned boat for three days but was "quite all right." Yesterday afternoon a Soviet fishing vessel was on the way to pick him up.
Lawson and 89 other singlehanded sailors left Plymouth, England, June 7 in the OSTAR race to Newport.
Lawson, 37, was one of the first two American women to attempt the race crossing. Neither made it. Joan Connors, the other American woman, left her boat in Bermuda after encountering problems.
Lawson's bid was largely supported by Serta Inc., the mattress company, which named the boat. The cost of the bid has been estimated at $100,000, mostly for the boat and its modifications.
Lawson's goal was to beat the women's race record of 29 days 1 hour 52 minutes set by Britain's Clare Francis in the 1976 edition of the 3,000-mile race. Dame Naomi James of New Zealand, the only woman to complete the passage this year, beat the record by more than three days July 3.
Lawson was still about 800 miles from the finish when storms canceled her effort.