Page last updated at 10:31 GMT, Friday, 15 January 2010

Sailors rescued near Java during clipper race

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Amateur video from a nearby yacht shows the crew stranded on a rock

A crew of 16 sailors that included Britons has been rescued from a sinking yacht after it struck rocks in the Clipper Round the World Race.

The crew abandoned the Cork Clipper on life rafts after the accident in Indonesian waters, and was later rescued by two other competing yachts.

The 68ft (20.72m) yacht ran into trouble in high winds and rough seas in the early hours of Thursday local time.

All of the sailors are now safe and their families have been informed.

The Cork Clipper was holed by a rock near the small Indonesian island of Gosong Mampango, about 200 miles north-east of Java.

The crew radioed nearby yachts California Clipper and Team Finland before abandoning their boat on life rafts and paddling to nearby rocks.

The crew had a lucky escape. You don't abandon ship unless you have to
Falmouth Coastguard

The sailors were forced to paddle out on the stormy seas again to reach rescue boats, which had been about four nautical miles away and arrived near daybreak.

Irishman Sean Coote, 47, who lives in Sunbury on Thames, said: "Our life raft was picked up approximately half an hour after leaving the island by the California crew who were immediately on hand with biscuits and hot tea.

"We are grateful to have escaped with no major injuries and proud to have rallied together as a team and survived a harrowing ordeal and test of our resilience."

International Rescue Services had been alerted by Falmouth Coastguard, who co-ordinated the operation to rescue the crew after being contacted by Team Finland.

Multinational crew

A spokeswoman for Falmouth Coastguard said: "The crew had a lucky escape. You don't abandon ship unless you have to."

The Cork Clipper was the Irish entry in the race and the multinational also included members from the UK, Australia and one Chinese sailor. It was skippered by Richie Fearon, 29, from Londonderry.

The boat is based in Gosport, Hampshire.

The 10-strong clipper fleet began the race on 13 September last year from the Humber estuary. Its current leg is from Geraldton in Western Australia to Singapore.

Famed sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, chairman of race organisers Clipper Ventures, said: "Clearly our priority has been the safety of the crew and we have confirmation that all on board have evacuated and are now safe.

"Their welfare is our prime concern at this time."

A Clipper spokeswoman said other crew members from the UK are Alan Moss, 40, from Fareham, Hampshire; Keith Hale, 50, from West Yorkshire; Noreen Osborne, 32, from Belfast; Sarah Bell, 44, from North Yorkshire and David Paton, 56, from Preston.

The other Irish members are Gavin Kelly, 35, from Abbeyfeale, Limerick; Kevin Austen, 26, from Dublin; Sarah Boyle, 28, from Cork; Jacqui Browne, 49, from Co Kerry; Michael Lewis, 31, who lives in Derby and Orla Mellett, 30, who lives in London.

The remainder of the crew are Tie Wa Li, 28, from Ruislip, west London who is Chinese, Tania Dolinschek, 46, from Western Australia and Marco Giana, 37, who lives in Cork and is Australian.



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