Sixty saved from stricken sailing ship

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SIXTY PEOPLE were winched to safety in a daring air-sea rescue yesterday after their stricken sail training ship ran aground on a sandbank at the mouth of a harbour on the south coast.

Engine failure left the Dutch vessel Eendrach adrift half-a-mile out to sea. Then winds blew her on to the sandbank at Newhaven in East Sussex. Coastguard manager Kerry Woodard said: "The weather caught hold of her and she went side-on to the sea. She was broached on to the beach and there was a definite danger of capsizing early on. All it would have needed was the right wave and the wind in the right direction and she would have been over."

The Coastguard was alerted by the Newhaven Port Authority at 8.30am and sent a helicopter. The entire crew, who are predominantly Dutch, was winched in pairs. Initially, a skeleton crew remained on the boat to help to lift it from the beach, but they were evacuated after a coastguard tug failed to steady the vessel.

"She was getting battered. The decision was made between the skipper and coastguards to get everybody off and leave it to later on this evening on another rising tide," Mr Woodard said.

Only one crew member was taken to hospital, in Brighton, and he was later released.

Conditions remained rough last night with a south- south westerly wind blowing force six to eight.