Belfast Telegraph

Divers assessing capsized yacht

A multimillion-pound yacht which capsized mid-race is to be assessed by divers as attempts to tow it to shore continue.

George David, one of five crew thrown into the Atlantic after his Rambler 100 suddenly flipped over during the Fastnet race off Co Cork, has asked a local tug boat to lead the difficult salvage operation.

Divers have secured ropes to the 100ft yacht and began towing it upside down the 15 miles into the sheltered Bantry Bay, where a decision can be made on what to do with the 40ft mast.

The boat anchored off Barleycove, with divers due to inspect it this morning and try to recover personal items before towing operations continue.

Gerry Smith, skipper of the Wave Chieftain which rescued five of the crew from the sea last night, including skipper Mr David, said salvaging such a huge vessel would be a tough operation.

"It will have to be put into a position were you get up and remove the rigging and get it ready for moving," he said. "You have a 40ft mast and with all the associated rigging."

Mr Smith took out Mr David and a dive team to inspect the wreckage and attempt to recover passports and other personal items from the cabin yesterday, but were unable to due to conditions.

Mr David said he believed the boat was salvageable. "This boat will race again. It's a good strong boat and we don't know why the keel fin let go and we'll find that out more when we get a chance to inspect it very closely," he said.

The ocean-going yacht, which was competing at the head of the renowned Fastnet Race when disaster struck, had drifted five miles west since it flipped over south-west of the lighthouse rock at about 6pm on Monday.

Skipper Mr David and his partner Wendy Touton were two of the five crew thrown into the Atlantic swell. All five linked arms to stay together in the sea for several hours in poor visibility. Ms Touton was airlifted to Kerry Hospital with severe hypothermia but has recovered well and was released from hospital.

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