Court hears of dramatic rescue

Novice crew members of a sailing school vessel suffered from hypothermia after her skipper ignored their concerns and set sail at night into a Force 10 winter storm, a court was told yesterday.

Five amateur sailors had each paid £225 to sail from Southampton to London and were expecting to arrive in time for the Boat Show in January.

As Liquid Vortex, a £105,000 Beneteau First 40.7 race cruiser, sailed into 20ft seas one crewman was thrown overboard, and others were seasick, Southampton Crown Court was told.

The boat was rescued off Dungeness by an RNLI lifeboat and some crew were later airlifted to safety.

Skipper Charlie Sturrock, 50, has pleaded not guilty to four counts of negligence under the Merchant Shipping Act. Principal of the Hot Liquid Sailing school, Jason Manning has pleaded not guilty to three counts under the same act.

The case is expected to run until Friday.