Jury still to consider three charges

A sailing school boss and skipper have been acquitted of four of seven charges regarding a yacht rescue in the Channel.

The owner of Hot Liquid Sailing, Jason Manning, and Charles Sturrock, who was the skipper of Liquid Vortex, a Bénéteau First 40.7 owned by Hot Liquid, had faced three counts and four counts respectively of negligence under the Merchant Shipping Act.

A judge at Southampton Crown Court ordered the jury to return a not guilty verdict for four of the charges against the pair relating to standard operating procedures. The judge said there was not sufficient evidence to take the charges further.

Manning, 36, of Eastleigh, and Sturrock, 50, of Shropshire, still face three charges relating to failing to identify risks to the yacht and crew. Manning and Sturrock deny all the charges.

Earlier in the case, which has run for almost two weeks, the court heard how some of Liquid Vortex’s crew suffered from hypothermia and seasickness after Sturrock set sail with forecast high winds.

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

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

The trial continues.