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A Racing Yacht is Rescued

Clyde Challenger’s 14 stranded sailors are rescued by HMS Dragon of the Royal Navy.

March 1, 2017
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Royal Navy, Clyde Challenger, HMS Dragon, Rescue
The Royal Navy’s HMS Dragon rescues 14 sailors from stranded racing yacht, Clyde Challenger. Courtesy Royal Navy

A yacht drifting in turbulent Atlantic waters, its mast snapped at deck-level, is a bleak picture. One could only hope for an able-bodied vessel to come help.

Fortunately, the 60-foot racing yacht, Clyde Challenger, received just that when its 14-person crew found themselves in that exact predicament. A Royal Navy vessel, the Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon, sped across the ocean for 20 hours to come to the crew’s aid.

Royal Navy, Clyde Challenger, HMS Dragon, Rescue
HMS Dragon is a 8,500-ton warship, one of The Royal Navy’s six Type 45 destroyers. Courtesy Royal Navy

Clyde Challenger was sailing from Azores to U.K. when it succumbed to significant damage from a rogue wave. The immense impact knocked the vessel over and her mast was dragged into the water, at which point it snapped. The crew was stranded, drifting, for almost two days.

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“There were maybe a few doubts in my mind but when I knew HMS Dragon was coming for us, I knew it was going to be a positive outcome.”

Roy Graham, Clyde Challenger skipper

HMS Dragon was 500 nautical miles away from Clyde Challenger‘s position when they were charged with locating and rescuing the stranded crew, with assistance from U.K. and U.S. aircraft and other vessels. It was a 20-hour trek through tempestuous seas.

“When we arrived on the scene it was clear the yacht had lost its mast and looked in a pretty desperate state after nearly 48 hours drifting in the challenging conditions.”

Petty Officer Max Grosse of the HMS Dragon

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Royal Navy, Clyde Challenger, HMS Dragon, Rescue
HMS Dragon used two sea boats to get to Clyde Challenger, in strong winds and turbulent seas. Courtesy Royal Navy

When HMS Dragon arrived, all 14 crew were alive and in good shape, but there was only three hours of daylight left. Fortunately, the naval vessel is fitted with two large sea boats that can each fit six, which were used to swiftly transfer the crew. Strong winds and Atlantic swell, however, made the transfer a tough job and really tested the skills of HMS Dragon‘s experienced coxswains, said Petty Officer Grosse.

Royal Navy, Clyde Challenger, HMS Dragon, Rescue
Their sea boats enabled HMS Dragon to swiftly transfer Clyde Challenger‘s 14 sailors to safety. Courtesy Royal Navy

All 14 crew arrived safely aboard HMS Dragon and were given medical attention, food and the opportunity to contact their families. Ultimately, the decision had to be made to scuttle Clyde Challenger, since the damage it had endured made recovering it unsafe.

HMS Dragon headed towards Lisbon where, according to Clyde Challenger‘s Facebook page, they were able to drop off a grateful crew. An ordeal made less trying, at least, by HMS Dragon, the aid in their time of need.

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Learn more here.

**Follow Clyde Challenger’s updates here. **

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