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Canada launches rescue as winds hit Ostar sailing race

A rescue mission was launched Friday in the mid-Atlantic after vessels involved in the Ostar Race ran into trouble amid high seas and hurricane-force winds.

Joint Task Force Atlantic in Halifax said it was responding to distress calls from three vessels involved in the transatlantic race between the U.K. and Rhode Island.

At least one vessel is dismasted, with others having rigging and or hull damage,” the task force tweeted.

The sailors, who were on three different boats, were participating in the Royal Western Yacht Club’s Original Singlehanded Transatlantic Race and the Twohanded Transatlantic Race with 12 other vessels, when they ran into hurricane-force winds 900 miles east of Newfoundland.

They were approximately 1,600 kilometres east of Newfoundland as of mid-afternoon Friday.

Weather conditions for the area were reported as stormy with hurricane-force winds between 50-70 knot winds and seas of 10 to 15 metres.

The Royal Canadian Air Force has deployed both a C-130 Hercules and a CP-140 Aurora from CFB Greenwood in Nova Scotia. The RCN has deployed Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Charlottetown plus two Canadian Coast Guard Vessels, the Pearkes and Cygnus, to the racing yachts’ location. Two civilian tankers are also on their way.

At time of writing, the names and nationalities of the four sailors were not released.

The organizer John Lewis praised the efforts of Atlantic-area navies and coast guards as “absolutely fantastic.” He also said all OSTAR and TWOSTAR sailors are highly experienced, despite being battered by severe Atlantic weather conditions, the likes of which Lewis hasn’t seen before.

This is the worst set of depressions we’ve had over this period,” said Lewis, who has run races for 25 years.

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