Fastnet race yacht rescued off Cork after mast broke

A rescue mission was launched in the early hours of yesterday morning after a yacht participating in the Fastnet race got into danger after its mast broke,

The Courtmacsherry RNLI All Weather Lifeboat was called out at 3.21am on Wednesday morning to go to the aid of the 12m yacht which called for assistance 21km off Galley Head in West Cork.

The Courtmacsherry Lifeboat, under coxswain Sean O’Farrell and a crew of seven volunteers, launched immediately and located the stricken yacht and its 10-strong crew at 4.45am.

Once on the scene, the lifeboat secured a towline to the yacht in order to stabilise the boat and towed it back at a slow speed to Courtmacsherry’s inner harbour.

“All 10 crew of the racing yacht are reported to be good condition after their early morning trauma,” a statement from the RNLI said.

Courtmacsherry Lifeboat Station voluntary operations manager Brian O’Dwyer paid tribute to the 16 crew and officers of the station who, Mr O’Dwyer said, “left their beds in middle of the night to organise and participate in this callout to a participant in one of the world’s most famous races”.

The eight crew on board the Courtmacsherry Lifeboat the Frederick Storey Cockburn (left to right): Chris Guy, Coxswain Sean O Farrell, Kieran Boyle, Denis Murphy, Ken Cashman, Evin O Sullivan, Dara Gannon and Ciaran Hurley.
The eight crew on board the Courtmacsherry Lifeboat the Frederick Storey Cockburn (left to right): Chris Guy, Coxswain Sean O Farrell, Kieran Boyle, Denis Murphy, Ken Cashman, Evin O Sullivan, Dara Gannon and Ciaran Hurley.

The rescue came the days after Baltimore RNLI brought two people safely ashore after their rigid inflatable boat lost power yesterday afternoon east of Fastnet Rock lighthouse.

The volunteer lifeboat crew, who were already on exercise, received a call from a vessel at 3.15pm that another vessel with two people onboard had lost all power. The RIB was watching yachts rounding the Fastnet Rock and Lighthouse during the race.

As it happens, the lifeboat was only 3km from the 7.5m RIB.

“Thankfully the lifeboat crew were on scene very quickly after the call was raised,” Kate Callanan, Baltimore RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer said.

“Baltimore RNLI has a strong connection to the Fastnet Race having been involved in a number of dramatic rescues over the years.

“The lifeboat crew regularly exercise during the famous race to be nearby in case they receive a call for help,” she said.

The RNLI said that conditions were good at the time of the RIB rescue, with a north westerly force 2-3 wind and 1m sea swell.

“Once on scene the lifeboat crew established a tow and brought the vessel back to Baltimore Harbour, securing her to the pontoon before returning to the lifeboat station at 4.20pm,” the RNLI said in a statement.

More than 2,700 sailors on 369 boats from 29 countries took part in the 975km offshore classic race.

The Fastnet race was hit with disaster in 1979 when a freak storm claimed the lives of 15 people.


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