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Rescue Launched In Stormy Mid-Atlantic For Participants In OSTAR and TWOSTAR

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  • Single Hander
    Good to hear they got them all. Quite an effort, Queen Mary 2 making herself useful!

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  • Photoboy
    All 5 Sailors In Distress Rescued!


    Five people aboard three sailing boats that were stranded after encountering hurricane-force winds during a transatlantic race on Friday have been rescued.

    The sailboats were part of the Royal Western Yacht Club's Original Single-Handed Transatlantic Race and the Two-Handed Transatlantic Race, but they ran into stormy weather early Friday morning about 1,600 kilometres off Newfoundland.

    Crews were facing seas swelling 15 metres high and "winds howling up to 130 kilometres an hour," said Capt. Marc Saucier, air coordinator of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax.

    Despite the storm and damage to the boats, he said no one was hurt beyond cuts and bruises.

    "It's a great day because five people in the end were rescued from a pretty dire situation. They're all safe, they're all going to be able to get home to their families and loved ones," Saucier said.

    Ships, aircraft responded

    A fourth sailboat that was previously in distress is still being monitored as it returns to the Azores, he added.

    He said the sailboats that were taking on water will be lost.

    "Those vessels have been abandoned at sea and most of them will most likely disappear below the surface of the water eventually," Saucier said.

    An oil and gas supply ship, a tugboat and the U.K. ocean liner Queen Mary 2 all helped with the rescue, which was organized out of Halifax.​

    The Tamarind, a British boat, was severely damaged in the storm.

    The Queen Mary 2 was about 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres) north of the sailboat when the crew got a phone call from the U.K. coast guard saying that it was in need of assistance.

    The massive vessel arrived at about 10 a.m. Saturday and lowered its rescue boat alongside the yacht shortly afterwards, said Queen Mary 2 Capt. Chris Wells.

    "I think he had a difficult night," Wells said of the skipper. "Around 10 metre seas is very high in a small boat like that. The windows were stove in, he had water in the boat and he had no steering."

    The skipper has had an opportunity to phone his wife and change into dry clothes, Wells said, adding that he invited him to partake of the cruise liner's afternoon tea with "a nice cup of tea, some cakes, some sandwiches and proper scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam."

    "He's very, very grateful that he is on board and I think he will have a much more comfortable ride to Halifax on board Queen Mary 2 than he would have done on his 38-foot yacht," Wells said.

    The Queen Mary 2 is now heading to Halifax.

    On Saturday the Bulgarian boat Furia issued a new emergency call and was taking on water about 250 nautical miles (460 kilometres) from St. John's, N.L.

    The two crew members were rescued by the oil and gas supply ship Thor Magni, said Saucier. It is now heading to Newfoundland.

    The Dutch sailboat Happy lost its mast and both crew members were rescued by the commercial tug ALP Forward, Saucier said.

    Two other British sailboats that were damaged, the Harmonii and the Suomi Kudu, were able to leave the storm area under their own power after damage to the mainsails, according to the race's blog.

    International response

    The Royal Canadian Air Force dispatched two Hercules aircraft and a CP-140 Aurora from 14 Wing Greenwood in Nova Scotia and Cormorant helicopter from Gander, N.L., to help with rescue efforts.

    One of the Hercules flew over the Tamarind, staying in contact with the skipper. The aircraft provided the rescue's "eyes on scene," Saucier said.

    Two Canadian coast guard vessels responded and the Royal Canadian Navy sent HMCS Charlottetown to the area, but the ship was called off when the rescues were completed, he said.

    A Hercules from the U.K. and a Portuguese Air Force P-3 Orion from the Azores also flew to the area.

    Stormy weather reported

    Weather conditions in the area at the time of the distress calls were reported as stormy with hurricane-force winds between 90 and 130 km/h and seas of 10 to 15 metres.

    John Lewis, the race's director, said there's not much sailors can do when they're facing such conditions.

    "You've obviously got to reduce sail area, you put out a drogue, which stops the boat going very fast — it's a kind of a sea anchor — and you sit down and hunker out."

    The race, which began on May 29, takes sailors from Plymouth in southwest England to Newport, R.I.

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  • Hanno
    Good to know there are no Canadians in trouble!

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  • Rescue Launched In Stormy Mid-Atlantic For Participants In OSTAR and TWOSTAR

    Breaking news from CBC News Nova Scotia


    A rescue mission was launched Friday in the mid-Atlantic after vessels involved in a sailing race ran into trouble amid high seas and hurricane-force winds.

    Joint Task Force Atlantic in Halifax said it was responding to distress calls from three vessels involved in the*transatlantic*race between the U.K. and Rhode Island.
    Lt. Len Hickey of the Royal Canadian Navy said emergency beacons from the boats went off shortly after midnight.*One of the sailboats lost its mast*and the other two suffered damage*to their hulls and rigging.

    None of the vessels was longer than 15 metres, said Hickey.

    all images © Paul Gibbins

    No Canadians on boats
    One of the boats had*two sailors on board, while the other two each had*one sailor. Hickey said the nationalities of the sailors were not being released at this time, but that*none*was*Canadian.
    They were*approximately 1,600 kilometres east of Newfoundland as of mid-afternoon Friday.
    Weather conditions for the area were*reported as stormy with hurricane-force winds between 90*and 130*km/h*and seas of 10 to 15 metres.
    "Conditions in the area remain fairly difficult," said Hickey.

    Nor'easter-like winds
    CBC*meteorologist*Kalin*Mitchell said satellite*images show*some*of the winds near the sailboats are*"on par with some of our strongest winter nor'easters."

    A map showing the location of the vessels participating in the race as of 1:31 ET on June 9. (Royal Western Yacht Club.)
    The*Royal Canadian Air Force dispatched multiple aircraft to the scene, including a CC-130 Hercules and a CP-140 Aurora from 14 Wing*Greenwood in Nova Scotia.
    HMCS Charlottetown was also heading to the area, along with the Canadian Coast Guard vessels Pearkes and Cygnus and two civilian tankers. Hickey said the ships were*expected to be on scene around noon*Saturday.

    Winds will ease Saturday
    Mitchell said*the winds and waves will begin to ease as*the storm*moves*northeast. By Saturday morning at 8 a.m., he said, the area where the boats are will have winds between 40 and 60 km/h, with waves between 3½ metres and six metres tall.*
    The vessels were participating in the Royal Western Yacht Club's original single-handed and two-handed transatlantic races between the port city of Plymouth in southwest England and Newport,*R.I.
    The races have been a tradition for decades. The first single-handed race was in 1960 and the event now happens every four years.*
    'Man against the sea'
    Halifax sailor Mark MacNeil's*friend*Christian*Chalandre*of France is one of the participants in this year's race.
    "Everyone who gets involved knows that this is the kind of weather they have to be prepared to face," he said.*
    ​Chalandre*is*competing*in a 10.3-metre or 34-foot boat that's 46*years old, racing*in a class where the vessels are a similar size.
    "He has lots of experience as most of them do and he has a good strong old boat, so in fact, he should be doing quite well, I would think," MacNeil said.
    MacNeil, who has sailed solo across the*Atlantic, said*boats competing in large races*are "very well equipped" with satellite phones and gear to communicate with the shore and with each other. *
    "It's still one man against the sea and they'd be pretty lonely," he said.*

    Competitors List