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Lifeboat called to yacht in trouble off Galley Head in Fastnet Race

August 9th, 2017 9:25 AM

By Siobhan Cronin

The eight crew on board the Courtmac Lifeboat this morning. Left to right. Chris Guy, Coxswain Sean O Farrell, Kieran Boyle, Denis Murphy, Ken Cashman, Evin O Sullivan, Dara Gannon and Ciaran Hurley.

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THE Courtmacsherry RNLI All Weather Lifeboat was called out at 3.21am this morning  to go to the immediate aid of a 40ft yacht that sought assistance 13 miles off the Galley Head. 

The yacht, with 10 persons on board, was participating in the Fastnet race and was disabled with a broken mast putting it in danger.

The Courtmacsherry lifeboat under coxswain Sean O'Farrell plus a crew of seven volunteers launched immediately and in the pitch of darkness located the stricken yacht at 4.45am.

Once on the scene, the Lifeboat assessed the difficulties and secured a towline to the towering yacht in order to stabilise the boat.

It then proceeded to tow it back at a slow speed to the safe haven of the Courtmacsherry inner harbour.

Both boats arrived to the inner harbour at Courtmacsherry just after 8am this morning after over a three-hour tow from the casuality site, 13 miles east of the Galley Head.

All ten crew of the racing yacht were reported to be good condition after their early morning trauma, according to Lifeboat spokesperson Vincent O'Donovan.

 ‘Conditions at sea early this morning had North West Winds in the area blowing force 3/4. The racing yacht was participating in the famous Fastnet Race and was one of a whole fleet of yachts that approached the turn at the Fastnet Rock during the night,' added Mr O'Donovan.

‘The crew on board this morning's callout were coxswain Sean O'Farrell, mechanic Chris Guy and crew Ken Cashman, Ciaran Hurley, Dara Gannon, Denis Murphy, Kieran Boyle and Evin O'Sullivan.

Courtmacsherry lifeboat station voluntary operations manager Brian O'Dwyer paid tribute to the 16 crew and officers of the station that left their beds in middle of the night to organise and participate in the call-out to a participant in one of the world's most famous races.

Meanwhile, Baltimore RNLI reported bringing two people safely ashore after their RIB (rigid inflatable boat) lost power on Tuesday afternoon east of Fastnet Rock lighthouse off the West Cork coast. 

The volunteer lifeboat crew, already on exercise in the area of the Fastnet Rock lighthouse, were alerted by a call from a vessel at 3.15pm that another vessel with two people on board had lost power.  

The call-out came as the crew on board the RIB was watching yachts rounding the Fastnet Rock.  

The lifeboat was only two miles from the casualty vessel, a 7.5m RIB. Conditions at the time were good with a north westerly force 2-3 wind and 1m sea swell.

Once on scene the lifeboat crew established a tow and brought the vessel back to Baltimore Harbour, securing her to the pontoon before returning to the lifeboat station at 4.20pm.

There were six volunteer crew on board the lifeboat, coxswain Kieran Cotter, mechanic Sean McCarthy and crew members Pat Collins, Don O'Donovan, Eoin Ryan and Cyril Thornton.

Speaking following the call-out, Kate Callanan, Baltimore RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer said: ‘Thankfully the lifeboat crew were on scene very quickly after the call was raised.  Baltimore RNLI has a strong connection to the Fastnet Race having been involved in a number of dramatic rescues over the years. The lifeboat crew regularly exercise during the famous race to be nearby in case they receive a call for help.'

The Fastnet Race goes from Cowes in the Isle of Wight, turning at the Fastnet Rock and back to Plymouth.


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