Seven people were ‘hurriedly evacuated’ from a sinking catamaran – the committee boat for Island Sailing Club’s J/111 class World Championships.

The 30ft Twin Wakes, which is also regularly used to oversee local racing including Cowes Week, began taking on water on the port side while north of East Bramble Buoy.

Cowes lifeboat joined two other Solent-based RNLI lifeboats in rushing to the aid of the stricken catamaran, at 12.55pm yesterday.

An RNLI spokesman said: ‘As the craft began to lean further over in the choppy sea, with the port engine compartment becoming fully flooded, the seven crew were hurriedly evacuated to the police launch Endeavour.’

Cowes and Calshot inshore lifeboats put their portable pumps aboard in the hope of making the vessel buoyant enough to be towed.

Cowes lifeboat helm, Alasdair Boden said: ‘By then, though, it was close to capsizing, and the amount of water aboard proved just too much.’

Solent Coastguards requested the help of Bembridge’s all weather lifeboat. When it arrived on the scene two crew members were ferried aboard with a more powerful pump, and eventually the lifeboat was able to take the Twin Wakes in tow back to its home port of Cowes, with the Cowes lifeboat following astern.

Twin Wakes being towed into Cowes. Credit: RNLI/George Chastney

Twin Wakes being towed into Cowes. Credit: RNLI/George Chastney

Twin Wakes was swiftly lifted out of the water at Cowes Yacht Haven, to undergo a full inspection.

It is understood Twin Wakes, owned by the Royal Ocean Racing Club, was at the time acting as committee boat for the Island Sailing Club’s J/111 one design World Championships, involving 14 teams from seven countries. The day’s racing was, however, unaffected by the drama, with the RIB, Golden Toad, filling in for its absence on the course.