Tug on way to see if giant yacht Leopard is still on the end of its EPIRB

Mike Slade’s 90ft Leopard has been abandoned off the Azores by her seven-strong crew who feared for their safety after the giant sloop sprang a leak.

A passing freighter took off the crew and is en route to La Coruna, Spain to drop them off.

Falmouth Coastguard said their Mayday call was downgraded to a Pan after they stopped the leak which had allowed water in through the lazarette and into the cabin after suffering steering problems.

A Coastguard spokesman said a tug is en route to search for the boat: ‘If it is still afloat’. He added: ‘The weather was deterioating so the crew decided to get off while the going was good.’