West Cork man leads mission to salvage racing yacht

THE complex operation to salvage one of the world’s fastest racing yachts is being overseen by Sean Harrington, a 26-year-old marine expert from Bere Island in West Cork.

Mr Harrington, who runs Atlantic Towage and Marine Ltd, has spent the last 36 hours on board his powerful 33-metre Ocean Bank tug off the south-west coast monitoring the capsized €18 million Rambler 100 yacht, which he towed and then anchored about a quarter of a mile off Barleycove beach on Monday evening.

His tug — one of the most specialised vessels of its kind in Ireland — is tethered to the yacht and he and his crew watched yesterday as divers entered the water to inspect the stricken vessel.

The hull alone is estimated to be worth up to €7m.

Marine experts reckon the entire salvage operation could cost the yacht’s owner, American multi-millionaire George David, up to €100,000.

Mr Harrington and his crew stood by with air bags, compressors and water pumps to help with the complex operation.

“It’s not the biggest job I’ve done, but it’s certainly one of the most delicate,” he said.

“There was a steady stream of cars coming down to the headland to watch overnight. You wouldn’t see a car there for weeks on end but it was unbelievable to see how many people have come down to see it. You’d swear there was a concert on or something.”

Mr Harrington founded his company in 2008 and spent some €1.25m on the tug, which was imported from Holland. The 600-tonne Voith Schneider tractor tug has a 3,000 horse power engine.

It has a bollard pull of 32 tonne with a top speed of 12.5 knots. It is also fitted with a 30 tonne metre deck crane.

The Conoco Phillips crude oil storage facility at Whiddy Island is one of his biggest customers. The tug helps manoeuvre 300,000 tonne oil tankers into the terminal. Mr Harrington’s company also undertakes contracts around the coastline.

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