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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 August, 2004, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
Powerboat crew's Atlantic rescue
Coastguard rescue pictures
An infrared Coastguard picture shows the crew waving for help
Four men have been rescued from a sinking vessel in the North Atlantic in an emergency operation involving the Coastguard and an RAF helicopter.

A distress signal was picked up at about 2000 BST on Monday from the 33ft Spirit of Cardiff, a rigid inflatable powerboat, 200 miles off Stornoway.

The crew were winched on board the Stornoway-based Coastguard helicopter.

Last year, the Spirit of Cardiff made the fastest Atlantic crossing by inflatable rigid boat.

The boat ran into trouble while en route from Belfast to Iceland with a crew of four men, three from Portsmouth and one Canadian.

Among them was Alan Priddy, who skippered the record-breaking team across the Atlantic in August 2003.

The Spirit of Cardiff pictured in 2002
The Spirit of Cardiff pictured in 2002
The crew reported that they had been hit by a wave which had fractured the hull and that they were taking water.

The Coastguard rescue helicopter "Mike Uniform" was scrambled along with a Nimrod aircraft from RAF Kinloss in the north east of Scotland.

The men, who were dressed in survival suits and prepared to take to the water if necessary, were winched to safety by the helicopter crew.

The vessel was only just afloat when they were picked up. The men were flown to Stornoway, where they underwent a medical examination.

'Well-organised'

Mike Mulford, an RAF spokesman, said the crew had been well-organised despite the danger their boat could sink at any moment.

He said: "They had all the equipment they needed, they had a beacon, they knew where they were and had communications.

"Although no-one wants to go through something like that, in many ways it was a textbook operation."

In September 2002, Priddy and the Spirit of Cardiff crew abandoned hopes of completing a round-the-world trip on the final leg of the 25,000 mile journey.

The boat had begun taking on water in harbour in Newfoundland.




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