Six rowers circumnavigating Britain rescued off County Antrim coast

An RNLI rescue vessel (stock image) Credit: RNLI

A group of 16 rowers had to be rescued by coastguards after attempting to circumnavigate Great Britain.

The rowers were rescued after encountering bad weather in the Celtic and Irish seas.

The three vessels from the GB Row Challenge hoped to collect environmental data.

However, each of the vessels ran into trouble separately and had to be rescued by the coastguard.The RNLI says it was tasked to save one of the groups of rowers in 'hugely challenging' conditions shortly after 5pm on Saturday (26 June).

The vessel called for assistance on Saturday after running into difficulty with galeforce eight winds and rough seas about 18 nautical miles north-east of Larne, Co Antrim.

All six crew members were safely rescued by the RNLI, who took the competitors to shore in Cushendall.

A tanker, which was diverted from its planned course, provided shelter to the rowers as part of the operation.

A coastguard helicopter was also deployed from Prestwick in Scotland.

The first vessel to call for help had been rescued after it lost communication with its shore contact on Friday.

Its last known location was 42.5 nautical miles west of St Ann’s Head, Pembrokeshire. It was found by a ferry and they were towed to Milford Haven.

The third vessel capsized 23 nautical miles north-east of Ardglass, Co Down, on Sunday morning. Although they were able to right themselves, they were unable to row. They were rescued and towed to Ardglass.

Only one of the 16 rowers will need to be checked over by Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.

Alex Smith, commander at HM Coastguard, said that even though the rowers were well prepared “they still got caught out”.

“The rowers were well prepared, they had all the appropriate safety equipment, a VHF radio and satellite phone, but they still got caught out,” he said.

“Most importantly they had a shore contact, who was able to raise the alarm after communications were lost with the first vessel.”

He advised the public to always be prepared.

“Whether you are rowing across the sea, sailing along the coast or going out for a paddle, always be prepared, check the weather, take the appropriate safety equipment and means of calling for help. Always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to come back”, he said.

“Remember if you see someone in difficulty at sea or along the coast call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”

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