Belfast man on a day out helps rescue crew of capsized race yacht
A Belfast man has described how he helped find and rescue five crew members who went missing after their yacht capsized off Co Cork during the Fastnet Race.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last night, Geoff Kirkpatrick recalled what he described as an "emotional day" while helping rescue several people who had drifted up to a mile away from the overturned craft.
The multi-million pound Rambler 100 overturned off the Cork coast just after 6.30pm on Monday evening.
It was part of the race which began from the Isle of Wight on Sunday with 314 yachts taking part.
Sixteen crew members who were found huddled on top of the upturned yacht were rescued by the RNLI, but five others remained missing.
The 58-year-old plumber was enjoying a day out on a diving boat before the skipper, Gerry Smith, answered the call to help the capsized yacht.
"An RNLI boat was taking the rest of the crew off the hull, but there were five missing. They weren't noticeable - visibility was poor and there was nearly a four-metre swell," he said.
"We started searching the area, searching the debris and things like that - we then saw the five huddled together."
Geoff, along with his companions, helped drag in the crew members using a winch. He said one of the crew, Wendy Touton, was in a terrible condition.
"We got them in and there was oxygen on the boat. Wendy's condition was very poor, she was closing her eyes and coming in and out of consciousness."
Along with the others, Geoff Kirkpatrick also saved the yacht's skipper, American billionaire George David, from the chilly waters off the Irish coast.