Eight people airlifted to safety in 85mph winds from sinking yacht off Mount Bay

  • HM Coastguard footage shows dramatic rescue off coast of Cornwall

Eight people have been airlifted to safety from a sailing boat off west Cornwall in "extremely rough and unpredictable" weather.

The rescue came after HM Coastguard received a mayday call from a 12-metre French yacht sinking in Mounts Bay, two miles southwest of Porthleven last night (31 October).

A Penlee RNLI Lifeboat, with Coxswain Patch Harvey at the helm, launched from Newlyn at around 8.30pm.

Teams who attended the call faced wind speeds of up to 85mph as they attempted to carry out the operation in driving heavy rain, rough seas and extremely poor visibility.

Credit: David Pascoe/ RNLI

On arrival the team decided they were unable to safely transfer a crew member across to the yacht and the skipper of the troubled vessel said he did not have sufficient safety equipment for those on board to abandon the boat.

The RNLI set up a tow but within four minutes the tow rope detached, once again causing the yacht to drift off.

A second tow rope was connected but at one point the yacht's window smashed causing water to pour into the cabin.

The boat's skipper warned rescuers that those on board were now up to their shins in water and two crew members had become very unwell.

As a result, urgent helicopter assistance was requested and, in what was described as "the most difficult and extreme conditions", all eight casualties were winched to safety.

Those on board the RNLI boat said it was some of the most "amazing flying skills" and "incredible determination" they had ever seen.

The stricken yacht was kept under tow, and despite taking on more water, arrived safely back in Newlyn Harbour at 1.30am.