Rescue operation after boats capsize on Strangford Lough

Some 100 sailors tossed into sea during sailing competition under force of ‘big squall’

Some of the rescued dinghies at the East Down Yacht Club are attended to by rescue workers  in Strangford. Photograph: Getty

Some of the rescued dinghies at the East Down Yacht Club are attended to by rescue workers in Strangford. Photograph: Getty

Tue, Aug 12, 2014, 02:08

A major sea and air rescue operation was mounted on Strangford Lough, Co Down yesterday after more than 150 sailors competing in a world championship sailing competition were battered by a heavy squall.

The Coast Guard service co-ordinated a speedy action plan involving lifeboats, ambulances, helicopters, police and other rescue services assisted by local boatmen and women when it was initially reported that up to 100 sailors had been tipped into the waters of Strangford Lough when their 14-foot sailing dinghies capsized.

Championships

The two-crew boats were participating in the GP14 World Championships. They sailed out of the East Down Yacht Club close to Killyleagh yesterday afternoon when they were struck by what competitor Lucia Nicholson from Sligo described as a “big squall”.

She and her crewmate Gerry Gilligan managed to get their dinghy ashore but “between 10 and 20 boats capsized” in the windy conditions, she said.

John McPoland of the Northern Ireland ambulance service said they received an alert about 2.15pm that up to 100 people were in the water.

He said a number of people were treated at the scene for hypothermia, and just two were taken to hospital, one with a suspected fractured wrist, and the other with a knee injury.

The competition is due to continue today.