LONDON: British yachtsman Tony Bullimore who made global headlines in 1997 by surviving inside an air pocket in his upturned hull for four days before being rescued has died of cancer aged 79.
Bullimore, known as the ‘British Bulldog, was a colourful character.
In 1966 he opened with his West Indian immigrant wife Lalel, who survives him, the Bamboo Club in Bristol where world famous acts such as reggae legend Bob Marley, soul master Ben E King and Tina Turner appeared.
It was consumed in a fire in 1977 shortly before punk rock icons The Sex Pistols were due to perform there.
His near death experience on the water came when taking part in the 1996 Vendee Globe single-handed around-the-world race in his boat, the Exide Challenger, and was 2,200km off the coast of Australia.
The then 57-year-old sailor was feared to have drowned when his boat capsized until he was dramatically rescued by the Australian navy.
They ascertained he was alive when they heard tapping coming from inside the hull — Bullimore had managed to survive on two bars of chocolate over the four day ordeal but still had the strength to swim under the boat and out to the astonished sailors.
Queen Elizabeth II at the time praised Bullimore’s “extraordinary feat of survival” and he was later introduced to her.
His passing earned him many tributes including one from Bristol’s Lord Mayor.
“A Bristol legend both on the waters and on the music scene. Everything you did to break down racial barriers. Sleep well Tony Bullimore and thank you @bristolarchives,” tweeted Councillor Cleo Lake of The Green Party. —AFP