Clyde Shipping

MAJOR Atlantic Rescue Operation To Save Crew Of Clyde-Based Racing Yacht

FOURTEEN sailors have been rescued from a Clyde racing yacht which got into difficulties in the Atlantic.

The 60-foot Clyde Challenger, which was based at Kip Marina, Inverkip, could not be recovered and has been scuttled.

Royal Navy warship HMS Dragon was diverted form 500 miles away to carry out the rescue after the vessel suffered damage in bad weather and sent an emergency beacon alert, which was picked up by the UK Coastguard at 8pm on Thursday.

The yacht had left the Azores on 5 February and was bound for the UK when it suffered significant damage following days of strong winds and heavy seas.  

HMS Dragon arrived at the boat on Saturday afternoon. A number of UK and US aircraft were involved in the operation, providing communications assistance. Several merchant shipping vessels went to Clyde Challenger's aid and attempted rescues but were thwarted by the conditions.

Clyde Challenger had been on a voyage from the Caribbean that started on 9 January and was called the Ultimate Atlantic Challenge. Daily updates had been posted on the yacht's Facebook page.

Petty Officer Max Grosse, the chief bosun’s mate on board HMS Dragon, said: “When we arrived on scene it was clear the yacht had lost its mast and looked in a pretty desperate state after nearly 48 hours drifting in the challenging conditions.

“We were however hugely relieved to see all 14 crew alive and well. Despite racing through the night we only had three hours of daylight remaining in which to safely remove the crew. Luckily HMS Dragon is fitted with two large sea boats capable of carrying six passengers each.  

“We were able to use both boats to transfer the crew as quickly as possible. The prevailing weather conditions and notorious Atlantic swell made it enormously challenging though and really tested the skills of my experienced sea boat coxswains.”  

Those on board had suffered only minor injuries but the yacht’s master determined Clyde Challenger could not be safely recovered to the mainland. The Clyde Challenger team issued a statement saying: "It is with a heavy heart that we have to announce the Clipper 60 Ocean racing yacht Clyde Challenger has been scuttled with the assistance of the UK Navy.

"Many recovery options were investigated with the co-operation of the coastguard, salvage agents and insurers. Due to her current position, the seven to 10-day forecast, risk to other vessels and considering the damage sustained it was concluded that the only safe option was to ensure the vessel posed no further risk to person or marine traffic."

Owner Glenn Porter stated “Despite sustaining significant damage in the evening of Thursday 9 February, Clyde Challenger continued to provide safe refuge for her crew until they could be transferred with minimal risk off the yacht by the UK Navy. It is sad to see the loss of Scotland’s Clipper 60, she will be sorely missed by many.

"Our immediate task now is to get the crew back home and provide all co-operation necessary to the authorities investigating the incident. The team at Clyde Challenger will also be working on options to move forward with our aim to 'make the ocean racing experience available to all'."

A post on the yacht's Facebook page at New Year stated: "To all our friends, followers, volunteers and clients, thank you for your involvement with Scotland's Clipper 60 in her 20th Anniversary year which has seen the yacht return to the ocean sailing for which she was designed and built with a trip across the pond!"

The boat, which was chartered for corporate and charitable clients, has featured as an attraction at Scotland's Boat Show, held at its base, Kip Marina.

|  Clyde Challenger Website  

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