Jetski riders rescued while heading from London to Auckland

Three riders saved using GME Personal Location Beacons during 32,000km Ultimate Ride adventure

Jetski riders rescued while heading from London to Auckland
Jetski riders rescued while heading from London to Auckland

Pirates, rogue waves and an unscheduled visit to Santorini were not on the radar for New Zealanders Jeremy Burfoot, Travis Donohoe, and Croatian Ivan Otulic when they planned their Ultimate Ride on Sea-Doo jetskis from London to Auckland.

The 32,000km Ultimate Ride had partnered with a number of cancer organisations around the world to promote a message of healthy living, cancer prevention and to raise funds for cancer research.

Sadly, the odyssey was called off on Sunday, August 29 when the team reached Fenike, on the south coast of Turkey en route to the Suez Canal. Advice from the NZ department of Foreign Affairs indicated that the risk of terrorist and piracy attacks in Yemen had risen to an unacceptable level and the trio would have been prime targets.

Further drama then unfolded in the Aegean Sea as the riders were making their way back towards Croatia to return their Sea-Doos. A massive storm struck on the morning of Tuesday, August 31, and by 8am the weather had deteriorated to a level where they found themselves battling 30 to 40-knot head winds and battling 3m to 4m waves.

After three hours of continuous punishment all three Sea-Doos were beginning to take on water and were unable to make any headway in the extreme conditions. At this point Burfoot, a highly experienced and well prepared mariner made the decision to activate their Australian-made GME MT410G Personal Locater Beacons (PLB), and wait for rescue.

Being GPS-equipped PLBs, GME said the distress signals were detected by the COSPAS SARSAT Geo Stationery satellites within a few minutes, providing the search and rescue authorities with accurate position coordinates and details of the activated beacons’ owners.

The Greek Air Force and the Santorini Coastguard coordinated the rescue effort that culminated with all three men being safely lifted ashore by helicopter.

Back on terra firma, team leader Burfoot thanked his rescuers and stated that the GME beacons had saved their lives.

Such position accuracy and rapid detection is only available with GPS-equipped beacons, standard 406MHz beacons relay on the Low Earth Orbiting satellites and emergency signals can take several hours to be detected and then only to a position accuracy of approximately 3nm.

For further information on GME and the COSPAS SARSAT system, visit

Photo: GME MT 410G PLB.

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