Huge waves and gusting Force 10 winds are hampering the salvage of Mike Slade’s 90ft racing yacht

The abandoned 90ft racing yacht, Leopard of London, is currently wallowing in the Atlantic approximately 400 miles from the Spanish coast in Force 8-10 gusting winds.

The seven man crew including Chris Sherlock the skipper had to abandon Leopard of London last Thursday morning (4 April) when a broken rudder stock caused the boat to start taking on water.

They were rescued by a ship, the Kurzme and were taken to La Coruna in Spain before flying back to the UK.

According to Sherlock who spoke to Yachting World this morning, the laminated carbonfibre rudder stock broke between the bottom bearing and the top bearing inside the boat. The bottom bearing collapsed leaving a hole in the hull with the rudder hanging out at 90 degrees. Sherlock said: “It happened last Tuesday morning at 1030 in the morning. We’d been sailing for 12 hours doing 12-20 knots carrying a very small amount of sail. We were on a big wave about 40ft in 35-40 knots of wind when rudder stock suddenly failed. It was extremely disappointing and, until we had the water intake under control with the yacht’s pumps, it was a very worrying situation to be in.”

The rapid flooding of the boat was obviously a great cause for concern because according to Sherlock there was water ingress through the watertight bulkheads.

Although the yacht is still afloat, the huge seas and gusting Force 10 winds are hampering the salvage. A tug is now standing by but is unable to commence the salvage operation until the conditions improve. “I was hoping that four of the seven crew including myself could stay on the boat until the tug arrived,” added Sherlock, “but the MRCC (Marine Rescue Coordination Centre) wanted us all off the boat. In hindsight it was the best decision because there is no way we could have boarded the tug safely in these worsening conditions.”

Once the yacht is salvaged she is likely to be taken to La Coruna in Spain where investigations will be carried out.