A yacht owned by the commodore of the Island Sailing Club sank after it hit a shipwreck in Saturday’s Round the Island (RTI) race.
The Mudeford RNLI inshore lifeboat rescued all the crew of Alchemist seconds before she sank in 17 metres of water just east of the Needles.
The Yarmouth RNLI all weather lifeboat also raced to the scene of the SS Varvassi shipwreck.
The Dubois half tonner Alchemist had competed successfully for many years and was owned by Mark Wynter, the commodore of the Island Sailing Club (ISC), the race organisers.
He was not on board but was said to be shocked.
None of the crew were seriously injured.
Isle of Wight-based yacht designer John Corby said: ‘Really sad to hear about the sinking, without owner-from-new Mark Wynter on board it should be stressed, of the 1977 Dubois Half-Tonner Alchemist on this years RTI.
‘Seeing it under construction at Lallows when I was about 15 was one of the things that made me want to build boats. I then raced on it in ’84 with Duncan Bates and Roger Guy including lots of offshore.’
He added: Hopefully it can be recovered but pretty deep there. Great shame.’
A challenging race
The strong wind forecast resulted in the cancellation of all the smaller classes of yacht.
Conditions south of the island were said to be ‘challenging’. The Yarmouth lifeboat was called to no less than six incidents including the loss of a mast, damaged rudder, crew injuries and damaged hulls.
Organisers of the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race said this year will go down in history as ‘a windy edition of the event’.
This year marked the 80th race and its 85th anniversary year – as the event was not run during the war years.
The MOD70 trimaran Phaedo 3 shattered the multihull race record in a time of 2 hours 23 minutes, 23 seconds, with owner Lloyd Thornburg and skipper Brian Thompson on board.
They smashed the record time Sir Ben Ainslie set in 2013 by a stunning 28 minutes.
Thornburg said: ‘We’re over the moon, the team work on board was fantastic and it was just on the edge where we could keep the full main up, so the boat was totally powered up. Reaching and downwind it was right on the edge.’
The largest monohull in the fleet, Mike Leopard’s 100ft Leopard, took monohull line honours, but failed to beat the record time he set in 2013 by 13 minutes.
Among the big names taking part was Prince Harry, racing aboard Sir Keith Mills’ Ker 40+ Invictus in the FAST40+ fleet.
Reporting from on board, crew member Alex Mills said: ‘It was pretty fruity down the back of the Island, but we got away with it unscathed.’
Despite the unusually testing conditions, only a small percentage of the fleet retired from the race, with the overwhelming majority of competitors – some of whom saw gusts to almost 40 knots – successfully completing the course.
By 2100 there were only a handful of the back markers left on the final few miles of the race course.
The only prize that was still open before the finish deadline of 2230 was the Tenacity Trophy for last boat to cross the line within the time limit!
The prizegiving ceremony at ISC attracted a large audience for the hour-long presentation of gold and silverware.
ISC Sailing Flag and head of the ISC race management team, Dave Atkinson, said: ‘It’s been more of a challenge this year than we have had in recent years.
‘The heavy weather forced us into making some pretty major decisions in cancelling some classes but we feel that with safety always being paramount, we were entirely justified in doing what we did.
‘There are a few sad faces but many more happy ones. We act as we do with the information that we have and at the end of the day I think it has been an incredibly successful weekend.’
All the results and trophy winners are listed online at rtir.me/results
Next year’s race takes place on Saturday 1 July.
On Friday, yachtsman suffered serious head injuries in an accident whilst training in the Solent for Round the Island Race.
The incident occurred just outside Cowes Harbour when the eight-person Farnham-based crew of the 40ft Sunsail ocean racer were carrying out gybe exercises in a brisk south-westerly wind.
A Cowes RNLI lifeboat spokesman said: ‘It appears that the man, in his 30s, was violently thrown on to a winch handle by a taut rope. As he lay unconscious and profusely bleeding it was then found that the yacht could not proceed to shore under its own power because a rope had fouled the propeller.
‘Following a May Day call to Solent Coastguards the coastguard helicopter was launched as a precaution. However, the yacht was successfully taken in tow by a passing RIB skippered by Robbie Southwell, son of operations manager of Cowes lifeboat, Mark.
‘As the yacht was being towed to Trinity Landing, Cowes, the lifeboat whose crew had been on stand-by, was launched and proceeded to the landing. There one of the lifeboat crew members, Dr Will King, went aboard to give medical assistance. The man was eventually taken by ambulance to St Mary’s Hospital, Newport.’
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