A French sailor has been safely rescued from a sinking yacht in the middle of the Atlantic after an oil tanker made a five-hour diversion to save him.

At around 10pm yesterday, UK Coastguard co-ordinated the long-range search and rescue mission after receiving an EPIRB distress alert from the Belgium-registered sailing yacht 429NM south-west of Land’s End, Cornwall.

UK Coastguard issued a Mayday Relay broadcast to all vessels in the area asking for their assistance. UK Coastguard also made contact with the Belgian Coastguard to inform them of the incident.

The Belgian Coastguard were able to establish contact with the yachtsman’s family and were told that he had been sailing for eight days en route to the Azores.

Two vessels responded to Mayday broadcasts with the closest being an oil tanker on route to Trinidad, who was five hours away from the distress position. The oil tanker arrived on scene just after 3am and found the yacht taking on water and sinking.

The French national was safely taken on board on Wednesday 2 August. Despite his ordeal he required no medical attention. The yacht was not able to be recovered and is believed to have sunk.

More below…

Duncan Ley, duty controller for UK Coastguard said: ‘Our priority is to protect life at sea and we will always do everything possible to provide assistance for a mariner in need.  In the event we can’t get there ourselves, we do our best to identify someone who can which is exactly what we did in this case.

‘Only two vessels responded to the Mayday Relay broadcast that was issued by us – largely as a result of the remote area the yacht was in.

‘In the end the yachtsman was rescued by an oil tanker who diverted its course to provide assistance. Although harrowing for the yachtsman on board the vessel, this is a superb example of mariners assisting other mariners in distress if they can do so.

‘We would like to thank all those who have played their part in bringing this rescue to a textbook conclusion.’