Yacht turned over phenomenally fast, says rescued man

FEELING lucky to be alive, Australian Mike Mottl stepped onto dry land at the pier at Baltimore, west Cork to cheers, applause…

FEELING lucky to be alive, Australian Mike Mottl stepped onto dry land at the pier at Baltimore, west Cork to cheers, applause and an emotional embrace.

One of five crew of the Rambler 100to be separated from the vessel after it keeled over in heavy seas, Mr Mottl and four others spent two hours adrift before they were plucked from the water.

“I’m feeling lucky to be alive, happy to be here and it’s great to see the local people here to greet us,” Mr Mottl said as he stepped into an awaiting ambulance at the pier.

Erle Williams, from Auckland New Zealand was at the helm when disaster struck seven miles north west of the Fastnet.

“I’m sailing all my life I’ve never ended up in the water like this, it was pretty scary. We were very lucky to get out in time, the navigator put out the call just as boat was tipping over and it went over phenomenally fast,” he said.

Foggy conditions prevented other boats taking part in the race from seeing the stricken crew.

“We were yelling and hollering out to them but obviously they couldn’t see us, it was a pretty frantic time,” he said.

A number of the crew members were asleep below deck when the boat keeled over.

“Some of our guys were very lucky to get out from under the boat so we are counting out blessings,” Mr Williams said.

Michael Van Beuren (44) from Portsmouth, New Zealand said the boat capsized within 30 seconds.

“We were going upwind in heavy seas when the keel fin fractured, the seas were quite big. It is such a relief that we all made it ashore.”

Skipper and owner George David was among five crew members set adrift from the vessel. They were plucked to safety by the crew of the diving vessel, Wave Chieftan.

“We could see them drifting away, we spent two hours clinging to the boat thinking and worrying about them, they were our main concern,” Mr Van Beuren said.

Bob Wylie (48) from Lake Quarry in Australia spent two hours on the upturned keel of the yacht.

“My first priority was my own safety and then to try to help the others,” he said.

“I saw the liferaft drifting away so I threw a rope. It just couldn’t reach them and they kept drifting out to sea.”

One woman on board the vessel, the partner of vessel owner Mr David, was airlifted to safety suffering from hypothermia following the incident.

The Rambler 100skippered by Mr David was first home in the Transatlantic Race earlier this year. The Ramblercrossed the finish line on July 10th in an elapsed time of six days, 22 hours, eight minutes, two seconds.

The Ramblerestablished a new record for the 2,975 nautical mile course from Newport, United States, to Lizard Point, South Cornwall, in Britian.

Mr David is the former chief executive of United Technologies Corporation, a conglomerate based in Hartford, Connecticut, whose vast holdings include such diverse companies as Otis Elevator, Sikorsky Helicopters, Carrier air conditioners and aerospace and industrial systems Hamilton Sudstrand. Mr David is an avid yachtsman and racer.