A single-handed French yachtsman was rescued last weekend in the first shout of the year for St Mary’s RNLI lifeboat volunteers.

The lifeboat was launched at 1345 on Sunday to assist the yacht Cap Des Palmes, which was three nautical miles, north west of the Isles of Scilly.

The yacht’s hull had suffered some structural damage and the 40 knot winds and rough sea conditions were making it extremely hard for the yachtsman to make headway into St Marys, so he requested some assistance.

Once on scene the lifeboat passed a tow and begun a slow tow into the wind and seas back to St Marys.

A St Mary’s Lifeboat Station spokesman said: ‘During the first 45 minutes of the tow, the forestay unfurled slightly and caught in the crosstrees of the mast.

‘The yachtsman asked if the lifeboat could tow downwind to free it, so the boat turned downwind to let him free it. However the mainsail then blew up and over the coach roof so it was abandoned and the course re-set for St Marys hoping the sail wouldn’t damage the mast.

‘On arrival the lifeboat picked up the commercial moorings just outside the harbour with the yacht on a shortened tow, launched the Y boat and three crew went to assist the yachtsman to untangle the sail and stow the mainsail.

‘The decision was made by the coxswain not to breast up the yacht alongside with the flapping sail due to the skiff like nature of the yacht and the sail could very easily wrap up in the lifeboats aerials.

‘Once the yacht was ready it was pulled up alongside and secured the the same moorings and the lifeboat.The lifeboat then carried on into the harbour to re fuel and wash down.’

The yachtsman came ashore with the Y boat and is stayed at an island hotel.