GB Row Challenge: Sixteen rescued after hitting bad weather
Three crews taking part in a Great Britain rowing challenge have been rescued near Northern Ireland and Wales, following bad weather.
A rowing vessel with five people on board was rescued from the Irish Sea on Sunday morning.
It followed a six-strong crew being rescued off the Antrim coast by the coastguard on Saturday evening.
Another vessel taking part in the same challenge also had to be rescued off the coast of Wales.
All 16 rowers from the three vessels were reported to be safe and well.
The three vessels from the GB Row Challenge had left London Tower Bridge on 12 June to circumnavigate Great Britain and to collect environmental data.
At 07:00 BST on Sunday, a rowing crew reported they had “capsized and righted themselves, but were unable to row”.
They had been monitored throughout the night by HM Coastguard with frequent radio transmissions.
The crew were about 23 nautical miles north east of Ardglass, County Down, and were taken to the village where they were met by Newcastle Coastguard Rescue Team.
On Saturday, a six-strong crew taking part in the same rowing challenge was rescued off the Antrim coast.
The GB Endurance team ran into trouble due to bad weather approximately 18 nautical miles north east of Larne, after 16:00 BST on Saturday.
A tanker was diverted to help provide shelter for the team to be rescued by the Red Bay RNLI lifeboat.
‘Damage to rudder’
A coastguard helicopter from Prestwick in Scotland was also deployed.
There were gale force eight winds with rough seas, according to the coastguard.
Crew members were able to board the lifeboat shortly after 23:00 BST and no one required hospital treatment.
Another vessel taking part in the same challenge also had to be towed back to land.
It was towed to Milford Haven in Wales after sustaining damage to its rudder at about midnight on Friday, after making the decision to head to Wexford in the Republic of Ireland as they were “fatigued” and concerned about worsening weather conditions.
Due to the offshore location and delicacy needed in the towing, the lifeboat was out for nearly 12 hours, arriving with the rowers and their vessel just before 12:30 BST on Saturday.
The rowers did not need medical assistance.
Alex Smith, Commander at HM Coastguard, said that although all the rowers were prepared with all the appropriate safety equipment they still got “caught out”.
“Whether you are rowing across the sea, sailing along the coast or going out for a paddle, always be prepared, check the weather, take the appropriate safety equipment and means of calling for help.
“Always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to come back.”