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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 July, 2004, 10:49 GMT 11:49 UK
'Lucky' sailor plucked from waves
Area where the sailor was picked up
A man who was swept off his yacht by a freak wave spent three hours in the sea before being rescued by a German boat.

The man was due to return to Hastings, East Sussex, on Saturday evening but when he did not turn up at 1815 BST coastguards went to search for him.

An hour-and-a-half later the crew of a German boat contacted emergency services to say they had plucked a man from the sea nine miles from Hastings.

The 60-year-old man, an experienced sailor, was cold but not injured.

Your head is only the size of a football and to spot that from any distance is quite hard
Dave Standon, Dover Coastguard
Dover Coastguard said the man often sailed alone and had left a plan of his intended journey.

Two lifeboats and the coastguard helicopter were dispatched and marinas in Kent and Sussex checked to see if he had change his route.

Dave Standon, from Dover Coastguard, said: "A large wave hit the side of the boat and he had been flipped out.

"The boat then carried on leaving him fairly helpless.

"To be come upon by a German sailing boat, whether it he was shouting for help and the yacht heard him or whether the yacht actually spotted him we do not now.

"But someone in the water is very difficult to spot especially when the sea conditions are as they probably were - a little bit lumpy.

"Your head is only the size of a football and to spot that from any distance is quite hard.

"So we judge him to be very lucky indeed."

The coastguard said they did not know what had happened to the man's boat.

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