Two sailors die as gales hit regatta

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The Independent Online
TWO sailors died off the Isle of Wight yesterday after gales hit racing during Cowes Week. Another three yachtsmen were seriously injured and another suffered a heart attack.

Coastguards confirmed that one woman died after being hit by a boom aboard the 35ft (11m) yacht Valdemar. She was taken by helicopter to Southampton General Hospital but died en route.

A yachtsman washed overboard from Mephisto, another 35ft yacht, also died. His body was recovered by a nearby yacht.

Another yachtsman lost the tips of his fingers in an accident off Hamble Point. Several other accidents were reported in the force eight winds, including another yachtsman sustaining severe head injuries and another suffering a suspected heart attack. He was said to be recovering in hospital.

The lifeboat at Yarmouth was called out three times in two hours and coastguards dealt with 15 incidents in four hours.

But a spokesman defended the decision not to call off the racing: 'There is no reason why good sailors could not handle the conditions. In most cases it has been the unexpected that has caused the injuries,' he said.

Captain Dan Bradby, secretary of the organising committee of Cowes Combined Clubs agreed: 'There was nothing wrong the conditions at all,' he said.

Sixty-five children were rescued from Swansea Bay, West Glamorgan, after force eight winds struck a regatta, capsizing 18 boats. In all 273 boys and girls aged 13-15 were taking part in a race for one-person dinghies when the wind blew up.

Cowes reports, page 24