Yacht in difficulties due to fouled spinnaker

Date: Saturday 10 October 2020

Location: 3 miles South of Pendennis Point

Weather: NNW 5-6, Moderate Sea and Slight Swell, Good Visibility, Partly Cloudy

All weather lifeboat: (Launched 14:29 / Returned 16:14) – Dave Nicoll (Deputy 2nd Coxswain), Carl Beardmore, Jonathan Hackwell, Nick Head, Tamsin Mulcahy, Chris Simpson, Cadan Harris

Inshore lifeboat: (Launched 14:17 / Returned 16:20) – Elliot Holman (Helmsman), Tom Bird, Neil Capper, Adam West


At 14:07 Falmouth Coastguard requested that Falmouth Inshore Lifeboat be launched to assist a 10m racing yacht which had broached, and its spinnaker had become off Pendennis Point. Other yachts in the area were trying to assist.

The Inshore Lifeboat launched from her slipway at 14:17 and having rounded Pendennis Point headed south to locate the yacht. At 14:23 the decision was taken to also launch the All Weather Lifeboat in case additional assistance was required, the All Weather Lifeboat leaving its pontoon berth at 14:29. The Inshore Lifeboat located the yacht 3 miles South of Pendennis Point at 14:29 having been blown downwind with its the spinnaker still wrapped around its forestay. The Inshore Lifeboat placed a crew member on board the yacht and a tow line was connected by 14:39, the All Weather Lifeboat arriving on scene at 14:42.

The Inshore Lifeboat towed the yacht back towards Falmouth escorted by the All Weather Lifeboat. Once back in the harbour under the lee of Trefusis Point one of the yachts crew was able to go up the mast to cut the spinnaker free before the Inshore Lifeboat towed the yacht to its mooring in the Inner Harbour. The All Weather Lifeboat was released to return to its station at 16:06. Once the yacht was safely on its mooring at 16:12 the Inshore Lifeboat was also released to return to its station.

The All Weather Lifeboat was back alongside its pontoon berth at 16:14 and the Inshore Lifeboat was back on its slipway by 16:20. Both lifeboats were refuelled and made ready for service by 16:35.

The yacht had been taking part in a race off Pendennis Point when it had broached, the spinnaker had got wrapped around the forestay and one of its crew had fallen overboard. A nearby yacht recovered the man overboard while the three remaining crew tried to drop the spinnaker, but this proved impossible as it was caught high up in the rigging and in the strong winds the yacht was blown out into the bay.

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