Page last updated at 09:48 GMT, Wednesday, 5 August 2009 10:48 UK

Fastnet race victims remembered

Fastnet tragedy
Coastguards airlifted sailors to safety in the rescue operation

A memorial service has taken place to commemorate the Fastnet yacht race disaster 30 years ago that claimed the lives of 15 people.

The service at Holy Trinity Church in Cowes on the Isle of Wight remembered the 605-mile race in 1979 that was hit by freak storms.

The yachts were racing from the island around the Fastnet Rock off Ireland and back to Plymouth.

Competitors from the time and present-day sailors attended the service.

The 15 lost their lives over three days as rescue services picked up 140 survivors hit by the storms in the bi-annual competition, but many yachts did not have radios - forcing a review of safety afterwards.

The commemoration comes in the middle of the Cowes Week sailing regatta.

This year's race is due to start off the Isle of Wight on Sunday, with 300 yachts taking part.

Yachtsman Mike Sanderson will be competing in the open 60 boat Team Pindar.

"The events of 1979 undoubtedly sent shockwaves around the sailing community - nobody could have predicted the scale of the tragic events that unfolded," he said.

"Since then, a major overhaul of the rules and equipment required for the race has impacted on all forms of offshore racing."

The race record is held by Icap Leopard 3, which set a time of 44 hours 18 minutes in 2007, taking almost nine hours off the previous record set in 1999.

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