Disabled 100-footer drifts into Race with 11 young people on board

A group of 18-25-year-olds was returned safe to shore after their training vessel was dismasted off Portland Bill in stormy conditions late yesterday afternoon.

The 1892-built Leader, a former Brixham trawler used by Devon-based Trinity Sailing to take disadvantaged young people adventure sailing, was on a course set to avoid the Race, the notorious tidal area south of the Portland peninsula, when her mast suddenly snapped.

Trinity spokesman Struan Coupar told PBO that at 1730 hours the 30.5m wooden gaff ketch was 1½ miles south-east of the Bill and a mile south of the Shambles. Leader was sailing a course under main and No2 jib with a WSW following wind when a loud crack was heard. The mast snapped and took the rig with it over the side.

The Coastguard were contacted immediately and the mast lashed to the hull to await arrival of the Weymouth RNLI lifeboat. The Leader drifted into the edge of the Race during the wait.

Despite the rain, rough sea and winds gusting to 40 knots, Trinity say that only two or three people on board were suffering from seasickness – contrary to some reports – and they fell ill before the incident. No-one else was unwell or injured.

Besides the three Trinity crew, the party comprised two adult group leaders and eleven young people aged 18-25, all from The Zone, a youth support organisation from Plymouth. The Leader‘s skipper, David Carnson, said: ‘Everyone was very calm and behaved extremely well under the circumstances.’

The Leader and her occupants were brought safely into Weymouth Harbour under RNLI tow at 2230 hours.

Image & video: RNLI/Weymouth

Trinity Sailing

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