Sailing: Briton saved after yacht destroyed by fierce storm

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The Independent Online

Ross Hobson, the British solo racer, was yesterday licking his wounds, and thanking his lucky stars, after his yacht capsized in conditions described as "horrendous" 1,750 miles off the east coast of the United States.

Hobson, a 48-year-old professor of dentistry at Newcastle-upon-Tyne University, was frantically trying to batten everything down on his 40ft trimaran Ideal Stelrad when it was picked up by a wave, pitch-poled and capsized. He was competing in the Route du Rhum race from St Malo to Guadeloupe and leading his class when the ordeal started late in the evening.

The emergency beacons which signal his position were activated and a joint rescue operation, coordinated by HM Coastguard at Falmouth and the US Coastguard at Norfolk, Virginia, swung into action.

Conditions in winds gusting up to 60mph were so bad that other competitors, themselves more concerned with survival than racing, could not turn round to help. Contact with a Spanish freighter was made by the coastguard but it took seven hours to locate him and then manoeuvre alongside him.

Suffering cuts, bruises and intense cold atop the upturned hull, Hobson was then able to step on to a ladder lowered down the ship's side. "Their seamanship was fantastic," said Hobson from aboard the freighter as it headed for Santander. But the yacht, he said, "is definitely lost at sea".

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