Royal Escape yacht skipper rescued by Brighton lifeboat crew

Posted On 26 May 2011 at 11:31 pm

The skipper of a yacht was rescued by the RNLI Brighton lifeboat crew this afternoon (Thursday 26 May) after he was swept overboard.

Danny Oliver was left suspended by a line and was bashed repeatedly against the side of the Lady Cilla in high winds and a very rough sea.

He was bringing the 32ft yacht to Brighton from Hamble ready for the annual Royal Escape yacht race which starts in the morning.

As the crew lowered the sails to enter Brighton Marina, a large wave hit the boat, knocked over the crew and swept Mr Oliver overboard.

He had been using a safety line so stayed attached to the yacht but was dangling dangerously over the side.

As he tried unsuccessfully to free himself, Mr Oliver was battered by waves up to 13ft (4m) high crashing against the vessel with the wind gusting at up to 40 knots.

The three crew members tried to pull him back on board but were unable so they broadcast a mayday distress call.

The volunteer lifeboat crew were quickly on the scene and one of the crew was transferred to the yacht to help.

Shortly afterwards Mr Oliver was safely lifted back on board.

With the situation under control, the Brighton lifeboat escorted the yacht through the marina entrance and to the safety of a visitor’s berth.

Given the horrendous conditions, the RNLI Newhaven lifeboat, the Solent Coastguard rescue helicopter and a number of mobile Coastguard units were also sent to help.

A spokesman for the Brighton lifeboat crew said: “Praise goes to the crew of the yacht who during this extremely stressful incident in hostile conditions managed to remain calm throughout.

“The sea in that area on a day like today is confused and steep and I think this incident highlights dramatically the importance of wearing a lifejacket and safety line when working on the deck of a yacht in these conditions.”

Mr Oliver said: “Very thankful for the guys who turned out to help. Very professional.”

The drama unfolded over about an hour and a half just after lunchtime as some of the dozens of yachts taking part in the Royal Escape race tomorrow were arriving in Brighton.

The event, which started in 1976, is the largest offshore race on the South Coast outside of the Solent and celebrates the escape across the channel of Charles II.

Crews recreate the flight of the king in 1651 by sailing the 67 nautical miles to Fecamp in Normandy.

Tomorrow the wind is expected to begin dropping to under 10 knots, with the promise of more of a breeze for the return journey.

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