Two men who were stranded in the Bay of Biscay next to their sinking boat have been saved from the ten metre high seas by RNAS Culdrose.
Navy search and rescue officers battled through last night’s torrential rain and gale force winds to save two men who were stranded 176 miles south west of Land’s End after their racing yacht broke in half.
The rescue, which has been described as “very difficult” by Falmouth Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, took a total of 12 hours.
Falmouth Coastguard were alerted to the yacht’s distress signal at 6.50pm last night.
Rescue officers from RNAS Culdrose were called to assist the two sailors, one who is Swiss the other who is French.
The team, who were flying to the limit of their range, were assisted by a French naval light-wing aircraft.
The stranded men were taking part in the Transat Jaques Vabre yacht race when their yacht, Rivages, encountered difficulties.
After problems with the mast, the 19 metre yacht broke in half in the gale force nine winds and ten metre waves.
The men were found wearing survival suits in the sea.
Unfortunately the conditions were too severe and the yacht too damaged for rescue teams to access the men.
Fortunately the Star Isfjord, a Norwegian container ship, diverted 30 nautical miles to help.
The two men were safely picked up at 6am and are now on board a merchant fishing vessel, heading to Rotterdam, where it is predicted that they will land a 12pm on Christmas day.
Ian Guy, Falmouth Coastguard watch manager, said: "This has been a very lengthy rescue and demanding rescue. The yacht was a long way from land and at the mercy of massive waves.
"The helicopter crew did all that they could but the damage to the yacht made it impossible for them to winch the crew to safety. It’s thanks to the skill and dedication of the crew of the Star Isfjord that we can happily report that the crew of the yacht are now on their way home for Christmas.”