Two people were rescued from a burning yacht by the crew of a fishing boat who responded to the Mayday call.

The 37ft cruiser had caught fire off Langney Point, near Sovereign Harbour, shortly after leaving for Brighton.

Eastbourne Lifeboats launched yesterday afternoon, 21 March, and found the yacht ‘well alight’ – the crew had already been rescued by the fishing boat.

The two-man crew were taken ashore, the lifeboat returned to scene and stood well off because there were a number of gas cylinders on board which were likely to explode.

Boat fire at Eastbourne. Credit: RNLI/Eastbourne

Credit: RNLI/Eastbourne

Mark Sawyer, a coxswain for RNLI Eastbourne lifeboat station, praised the quick action of the rescuers. He said: ‘One of the local fishing boats had luckily got alongside and got the people off the boat, it was well alight by then.

‘The fishing boat then put somebody on board to secure the anchor line so it didn’t drift too far. Quite brave, but perhaps one of those things you have to think about.’

He added: ‘We launched and got out there, saw the boat was well alight just off Langley Point and there was nothing we could do. We don’t officially fight fires, our main priority is the lives really.’

Boat fire at Eastbourne. Credit: RNLI/Eastbourne 2

Boat fire at Eastbourne. Credit: RNLI/Eastbourne 2

After transporting the sailors ashore, Eastbourne Lifeboat crew relaunched and worked to keep other vessels clear of the area.

When the cruiser eventually sunk, the volunteers cleared the area of debris, ‘making it clear and safe for other mariners.’

Mark added: ‘It was a bit of a shock. Everyone reacted very, very quickly; the yacht that put out the Mayday Relay, the fishing boat that went alongside and took them off and the volunteer crew here at Eastbourne.

‘I’m glad to say they’re ok, but they’ve lost their boat.’