Yacht crews rescued after Atlantic storm

Yachts leaving Plymouth
The yachts left Plymouth at the start of the race to Rhode Island

A major rescue operation has taken place in the mid-Atlantic after a fleet of yachts that set out from the UK was hit by a “once in a lifetime” storm.

Luxury ocean liner the Queen Mary 2 has rescued a lone yachtsman after he issued a mayday.

A massive storm, which saw fifteen-metre waves and 60-knot winds, left a number of yachts in trouble.

The sailboats are competing in a transatlantic race hosted by the Royal Western Yacht Club (RWYC).

A Cunard spokesman said that the QM2 was involved in a rescue operation “at the request of the US Coastguard”.

The rescued man is now on board the QM2 and is said to be safe and well.

One race yacht sank, and another lost its mast. The race began on 29 May.

The Canadian Armed Forces says a fourth yacht has also declared an emergency but it is not known if this vessel is part of the race.

Queen Mary 2
The Queen Mary 2 is on a cruise to Halifax in Canada

The transatlantic race involves 22 boats made up of solo sailors and crews of two, racing race from Plymouth to Newport, Rhode Island in the US.

The RWYC said it has been liaising with coastguard teams and says everyone is now safe.

John Lewis, race director for the RWYC, told the BBC that three race competitors gave off emergency signals, and a further two needed help from the Canadian coastguard in Halifax.

“I’ve been involved with these races for 25 years now, and this is the most extreme low depression going across the Atlantic at this time of year.

“So it’s very unusual, but these are professional sailors, they’re used to arduous conditions but not really a once in a lifetime storm like this one.”

A spokeswoman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said an RAF C-130 Hercules aircraft had been sent from the UK to help by providing top cover and communications assistance.

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