Two separate Man Overboard incidents have occurred during different cross-Channel races this weekend, one fatality confirmed and the second search stood down

Two separate Man Overboard incidents have occurred during different cross-Channel races this weekend, with one fatality confirmed.

The first incident took place during the Royal Escape Race, which set off from Brighton to Fécamp, in Normandy on Friday 26 May.

The yachtsman is reported to have fallen overboard around 1400 hours, some six hours into the 66-mile race across the English Channel.

A French search and rescue helicopter and lifeboat were dispatched to the scene. French media have reported that a fishing vessel also diverted to the area and was first to recover the casualty, who was then airlifted to hospital in Le Havre.

Tragically the sailor was later confirmed dead. He is reported to have been  from the Greater Manchester area. The yacht was taken under tow to Fécamp.

In an unrelated incident, a second man overboard was reported from a yacht competing in the JOG (Junior Offshore Group) cross-Channel race from Cowes to Deauville, also in Normandy, on the same day.

The sailor was believed to have gone overboard at approximately 2130 on Friday 26 May. A Mayday was issued and multiple French search and rescue vessels, plus two helicopters, were reported to have rapidly arrived on scene. They were joined in the search by fellow competitor yachts.

It’s understood the search was resumed by helicopter at daybreak on the morning of Saturday 27 May but was later suspended and has now been stood down. The yacht has been taken to Le Havre.

The incident involved a 68-year-old man from the Isle of Wight.

Conditions in the Channel this weekend saw winds gusting 30 knots from the north-east and 3-4m waves that were beam-on for much of the crossing for yachts racing in a south-easterly direction.

Official statements

Both organising clubs issued statements following the incidents.

Sussex Yacht Club, host of the Royal Escape Race, said: “We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one of our fellow sailors yesterday.

“We are working with police, maritime and coastguard agencies and the Marine Accident Investigation Bureau to assist with their inquiries.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and supporting our fellow sailors at this difficult time.”

The Junior Offshore Group, which runs the Cowes-Deauville event, said: “JOG Yacht Racing are deeply saddened to announce that a competitor was reported overboard during the Cowes to Deauville race on Friday 26th May at approximately 21:30hrs BST. The incident occurred some 15 miles from the finish in the Seine Bay off the Northern coast of France.

“Following a Mayday call to the French rescue services, air rescue and lifeboats, together with nearby vessels and a number of competing boats, assisted in a search. At the time of this statement, no person has yet been recovered.

“We are cooperating with French authorities, and all concerned in establishing the full details and assisting with enquiries.  The competitor’s next of kin has been informed. Our thoughts and most sincere condolences are with the family at this difficult time.”