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RNLI Lerwick Lifeboat launches for 900th shout at start of North Sea yacht race

Lifeboats News Release

Lerwick Lifeboat launched this morning to go the aid of a yacht in this year’s Shetland Races, just minutes before 35 racing yachts assembled to set off across the North Sea to Bergen.


Lerwick Lifeboat passes astern of racing yachts lined for the start of the return leg of the 2023 Shetland Races to Bergen.
The 12-metre Norwegian yacht with five persons on board had fouled its propeller in creel lines near the Bressay marina and contacted the UK Coastguard to request assistance.

Lerwick Lifeboat crew launched at around 7.55am and made good speed across Lerwick Harbour, just as yachts assembled on the start line for the return leg to Bergen of the 2023 Shetland Races due to set off at 8am.

Passing to the north of the racing vessels, which were due to head out the south entrance of the harbour, and a 253-metre cruise ship at anchor, the lifeboat reached the stricken vessel in around five minutes. The crew attached a line and took the stricken vessel under tow across the harbour.

However, soon after taking up the tow, the crew of the yacht were able to free the rope from their boat’s propeller and restore engine power again. The yacht then set sails and joined the Races, heading south to catch up with the other racing yachts which were by now passing south of Bressay.

Winds were south easterly with force four to five and moderate sea state, with some patchy fog in places.

This morning’s call-out is thought to be the 900th for Lerwick Lifeboat since the first RNLI lifeboat took up service in Lerwick Harbour in July 1930.

Stephen Manson, Coxswain of Lerwick Lifeboat said: “It was unfortunate timing for this vessel to get caught in creel lines, just as all the racing yachts assembled this morning. We were able to navigate across a busy harbour to reach them quickly but thankfully the crew of the yacht were able to free the fouled rope themselves. We hope they can make up time in the race and we hope all the vessels have a safe passage across the North Sea back to Bergen. "


Lerwick Lifeboat takes the stricken vessel under tow from near the Bressay marina.


Lerwick Lifeboat with the vessel under tow as it passes a large cruise ship in Lerwick harbour.

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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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