Pagers raised Newhaven Lifeboat’s volunteer crew at 4:04am on Monday 25 July. HM Coastguard requested the launch of Newhaven’s Severn class lifeboat 'David and Elizabeth Acland' in response to a lone-sailor on board a 16 metre yacht calling mayday.
The casualty vessel, with one person on board, had a dragging anchor and machinery failure. It was unable to motor clear of the cliffs at Flag Staff Point, east of Cuckmere Haven, where it was reported to be very close to the surf line and at imminent risk of going aground.
The lifeboat arrived on scene at 4.26am, by which point conditions had deteriorated since launch. Weather conditions were force 5 to 6, 25+ knots of south westerly wind, with moderate sea state and fair visibility.
Lewis Arnold, Coxswain says: ‘Once we arrived on scene, we deployed the Y-class lifeboat, the two crew proceeding with caution towards the yacht, but due to sea state and surf were unable to get close enough to the casualty vessel.’
An alternative rescue by an HM Coastguard shore team was unsuitable due to the potential risk of getting cut off by the flooding tide. HM Coastguard agreed to a helicopter for the evacuation of the sailor.
Lewis Arnold, Coxswain says: ‘The helicopter ETA was around 50 minutes. We stood by, remaining in regular welfare communication with the casualty, with two of our crew remaining in the Y-class in case the situation changed.’
The HM Coastguard rescue helicopter arrived on scene. Following an assessment, the winch-man recovered the casualty. The sailor was taken to Birling Gap.
Newhaven Lifeboat stood by until the sailor was safely winched into the helicopter, at which point, with no further risk to life, the lifeboat was stood down by HM Coastguard and returned to station.
Notes for the editor
ALB: All-weather Lifeboat
Y-class: is small inflatable rescue boat operated by the RNLI. The Y-class is used as a small tender carried on board the larger RNLI all-weather lifeboats
ETA: Estimated Time of Arrival
RNLI media contacts
For more information please telephone Roz Ashton, RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07900 887423 or [email protected]
or Paul Dunt, Regional Media Officer on 07785 296252 [email protected]
or contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.
RNLI Newhaven social media
For more information, please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the RNLI News Centre.
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.
Learn more about the RNLI
For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.
Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries
Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.