UK: Rescuers from Culdrose Save Yachtsman as Storms Lash Channel
Rescuers from Culdrose hauled a yachtsman out of the Channel as June storms swamped his boat off the French Coast. A Sea King from the Cornish air station was scrambled when sailor Peter Evans’ vessel capsized off St Malo.
His upper body wrapped in a towel, a yachtsman climbs down from the Navy helicopter which plucked him out of the Channel as his yacht foundered.
Sailor Peter Evans, 54, was winched from the sea by the Culdrose-based Search and Rescue Sea King helicopter after abandoning his yacht as he tried to escape the unseasonal storm sweeping up the Channel.
Mr Evans had been attempting to sail his small yacht from France to the Azores, but was forced to turn back as the weather worsened.
Running for the shelter of St Malo Bay, his boat was overcome by waves in the early hours of today and twice capsized by violent seas.
Mr Evans said:
“I didn’t get any sleep at all last night, the sea was so rough. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Eventually conditions became so bad that Mr Evans activated his distress beacon.
“At first I didn’t think it was working,” he said, “but when I heard the aircraft I knew I was ok.”
The crew of the Navy’s Sea King rescue helicopter, callsign Rescue 193, were scrambled at the end of a 24-hour shift during which they had already carried a cliff rescue on the northern coast of Cornwall.
Petty Officer Aircrewman Shaun ‘Boogie’ Knights was the winchman who pulled the yachtsman to safety, with pilots Capt Birtie Cross RM and Lt Simon Thompson at the controls; Lt Thompson had flown his first rescue mission only the previous day and had to hover the helicopter just feet away from the yacht’s mast in order to help winch Mr Evans to safety.
Back at the Culdrose, the shipwrecked mariner was provided with fresh clothes and slowly recovered from his ordeal.
“His clothes were soaked so we kitted him out with some overalls and trainers and a few cups of tea,” said Lt Cdr Rich Full who commanded the rescue mission – and just a couple of weeks ago hit the headlines as the man who handed over the Olympic flame at Land’s End to begin the torch relay around the UK.
Naval Today Staff , June 8, 2012; Image: Royal Navy