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Taken from Thisiskent.co.uk

FIVE men were airlifted off a sailing yacht five miles off the Ramsgate coast on Sunday 16th January just before the £80,000 vessel sank.

The sailors’ lucky escape came after they set sail for Southampton from Ramsgate harbour despite gale warnings.

The men, not from Thanet, had just come from the London Boat Show in Earls Court, where they had a stand.

Their Bavarian 36 yacht Liquid Fusion ran into trouble on North Sand Head on the Goodwin Sands in fierce south-south-westerly winds of gale force seven and a sea swell of three metres.

Both Ramsgate inshore and all-weather lifeboats were launched at 1.40pm but were unable to reach the boat because of low tide.

Ramsgate coxswain Ian Cannon said: “Unfortunately the water was not deep enough for us to get close enough to and was too deep to paddle in.

“So we sat at anchor waiting for the tide to turn. At that time the five men in the boat were safe. It was like being in a calm lagoon, flat and calm.”

But rescue crew conditions were about to change and, despite a crew of 14 lifeboat men ready to attempt a rescue, the men on the Liquid Fusion were about to face serious danger if they remained on board.

Mr Cannon said: “When the tide turned the wind and tide would be in different directions, causing turbulence. As dark was coming the decision was made to airlift the men off the yacht for their own safety.”

The RNLI rescue helicopter was scrambled from Wattisham Down, Suffolk, and in the approaching dusk airlifted the men from the yacht where they were flown unhurt to Manston.

After the rescue as the tide rose lifeboat crews hoped to pull the empty yacht, estimated to be worth between £80,000 and £90,000 and owned by the Hot Liquid Sailing Club, back to harbour. But at about 7pm it sank, its hull broken by running aground.

Mr Cannon said: “The men were all well but quite shaken by their ordeal. They said they couldn’t understand why they were airlifted off when it was all nice and calm. But they didn’t realise the danger and the sinking of the boat proved what a lucky escape they had.”