Four lifeboats from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) were called out to a string of incidents in terrible conditions at the weekend as the 50th Fastnet Race got underway in boat-breaking conditions.
The famous 695-mile yacht race, started at Cowes in the Solent on Saturday with a record-breaking 430 entrants racing around the Fastnet Rock, off Ireland, before finishing in Cherbourg, France.
But with winds gusting up to 46mph, heavy rain and challenging seas of 4m, RNLI crews from Yarmouth, Poole, Swanage and Weymouth responded to multiple taskings by HM Coastguard throughout the opening few hours of the race with more than a quarter of entrants retiring by the end of the end of Sunday.
As the racing fleet departed the Solent facing the full force of the weather, RNLI lifeboats were tasked to a multitude of incidents.
A yacht with two people onboard issued a distress call after it had begun taking on water. The Yarmouth all-weather lifeboat arrived on scene locating a liferaft with two people in it after their yacht had sunk. They were taken onboard the Yarmouth lifeboat where they were generally well but shaken.
In another serious incident, Swanage all-weather lifeboat was tasked to a yacht with a sailor onboard suffering a head injury and requiring immediate evacuation. Two lifeboat crew were placed onboard in rough conditions to carry out casualty care. Once in the calmer waters of Studland Bay the casualty was evacuated by lifeboat and handed over to the care of the ambulance.
RNLI lifeboats were tasked to many other incidents throughout the blustery afternoon ranging from dismasted yachts, a number of accidental emergency positioning radio beacon (EPIRB) alerts, a yacht with steering failure and a hand injury.
Yarmouth RNLI Coxswain, Howard Lester said: ‘This weekend’s Fastnet race was the busiest one for Yarmouth lifeboat, responding to six incidents in some very challenging conditions in the western Solent and beyond.
‘We were very fortunate that all our call outs were to crews with means of calling for help and were equipped with either lifejackets or had life rafts accessible onboard.’
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.
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