Major search and rescue mission launched to assist 60ft Clyde Challenger in North Atlantic

UK yacht in Atlantic storm sends Mayday

After several days of strong winds and heavy seas, the 60ft (18m) yacht Clyde Challenger sent a Mayday, relayed by another vessel, at 2000 last night (9 Feb 2017) reporting steering problems and damage to her mast and sails. The position of the vessel, which has 14 crew onboard, 13 of whom are UK citizens, was today given as 365nm off Cape Finisterre. All are reportedly safe and well.

The latest news is that a jury rudder has been built and tested under motor. However her speed is much reduced so the decision has been taken to airlift off most of her crew and take them to safety while the yacht’s skipper and owner liaise to co-ordinate a salvage operation.

After receiving the Mayday yesterday, the UK Coastguard dispatched a Hercules C130 aircraft from RAF Brize Norton and communications were established with the yacht. A cargo vessel stood by to assist if needed and provided a lee for the distressed yacht.

‘The weather conditions on scene are quite challenging with force 6- 7 winds, rough seas and poor to moderate visibility,’ said Kaimes Beasley, UK Coastguard Duty Controller, earlier today. ‘We are in contact with a number of national and international search and rescue partners and other organisations, including the owner of the vessel, to bring this operation to a safe and successful conclusion.’

Clyde Challenger left Horta in the Azores at 1300 on 5 February bound for the UK.