England

Injured military personnel quit Fastnet after yacht damage

Yacht
Image caption The team was on a Farr 52 race yacht owned by the charity Toe in the Water

A group of injured military personnel taking part in the Fastnet yacht race have had to quit after a winch was ripped off the deck of their boat.

The vessel, Toe In The Water, had only been sailing for a "couple of hours" on Sunday afternoon when the winch "pulled itself from the boat", leaving a "gaping hole", the crew said.

None of the crew was injured and they were safely brought back to shore.

Skipper Lloyd Hamilton said it was the "shortest Fastnet I have ever done".

'Reality struck'

The crew - including armed forces personnel with blast injuries, gunshot wounds and amputees - was among 300 competing in the race which started on the Isle of Wight on Sunday.

They were on a Farr 52 race yacht owned by the charity Toe in the Water, which uses competitive racing as a tool to inspire injured men and women.

Image caption The ripped winch left a "gaping hole" on the yacht's deck

They had been due to sail a 608 mile (1,126 km) long route, from Cowes on the Isle of Wight, round Land's End, across the Celtic Sea and around the Fastnet Rock off the south-west coast of Ireland.

After returning from the Celtic Sea, they were due to return to land in Plymouth.

Fastnet organisers confirmed the vessel lost a "primary winch".

Skipper Captain Hamilton, a serving Royal Engineer, said: "The winch pulled itself from the boat.

"There was a quick evaluation of the situation as the headsail was lowered by the crew in a smart military-like fashion. Then reality struck: there was no way that we could carry on."

After returning to shore, Capt Hamilton said: "We will see you again in two years on the start line of the Fastnet 2015!"

The crew included 10 injured personnel, four core crew and a doctor.

All bar one of the participants currently serve in the armed forces and are based across the UK.

In 1979, 15 people died in the race when yachts were buffeted by treacherous conditions including strong winds and rough seas.

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