One of Ireland's most famous sail-training vessels has sunk en route to La Rochelle

Ireland’s most famous sail-training vessel, the Asgard II, sank off the coast of France. The five crew and 20 trainees on board abandoned ship early Friday morning after issuing distress calls. It is not yet known if the boat will be recoverable.

The 27-year-old brigantine began taking on water overnight, and after repeated mayday calls, began evacuating crew into liferafts. At 0220 the UK Marine Coastguard in Kinloss picked up a distress signal from the vessel.

The Asgard II was heading to La Rochelle, France from Falmouth to effect minor maintenance, and was due to take part in the La Rochelle Boat Show. The boat went down 20 miles off the French coast, and the crew and trainees were all transferred safely to the nearby island of Belle Ile.