A full scale rescue operation was mounted in the Bristol Channel last night for several young sailors – whose sailing dinghies had capsized during a “sailing lesson” and were reported to be “drifting with the tide” with their crews unable to get them upright.
Some of the young sailors became separated from their overturned dinghies and were swimming in the open water, supported only by their life-jackets.
A Penarth Yacht Club safety boat began rescuing them but there were so many in the water some yacht club members on the shore dived into the water to swim to the youngsters. In the initial confusion it was not immediately clear how many youngsters were actually in the water nor how many had actually been attending the training session.
Both Penarth lifeboats were launched and Barry Dock’s ocean-going lifeboat was also called in to assist. Penarth Coastguard officers were also called to the scene and the Coastguard Rescue helicopter Rescue 187 was also brought in to comb the coastline all the way from Penarth Head to Sully Island .
On the ebbing tide one overturned dinghy was spotted off Lavernock Caravan Park and was brought ashore by Penarth Coastguards whilst RNLI crews towed some of the vessels back to Penarth Yacht Club.
During the search one Penarth lifeboat crew had intercepted local boats in the area to check whether they had spotted any of the drifting dinghies.
Eventually it was established that all the young dinghy sailors were safe and well – and accounted for.
This is the second such recent incident involving multiple capsizes by young sailors operating under the tutelage of Penarth Yacht Club. A previous incident on April 24th also involved Penarth Lifeboat and Penarth Coastguard.