The crew of the powerboat were taking part in the Cowes Classic Offshore Powerboat race when they were forced to abandon the vessel after it starting sinking off Portland Bill.

The crew of a powerboat were competing in the Cowes Classic 2016 Offshore Powerboat Race when the vessel started taking on water south west of Portland Bill.

The race starts in Cowes and finishes 200 miles away in Torquay, Devon.

The crew members were forced to abandon the Silverline A47 after it was sunk by a freak wave.

They were rescued by the race’s safety boat.

The Weymouth RNLI all-weather lifeboat (ALB) was scrambled to Portland Bill, arriving within 10 minutes.

By now, the Silverline A47 was bow up in the water.

Weymouth lifeboat alongside the powerboat which sank off Portland Bill

Weymouth lifeboat alongside the powerboat. Credit: Paul Stone

Despite several attempts, the RNLI crew were unable to establish a tow.

A spokesman for Weymouth RNLI said: “The crew of the ALB  made repeated attempts to help salvage the powerboat, by attempting to attach a tow line to her bow, and pull her upright in attempt to drain and re float her.”

“The crew managed to hook the line attached to the powerboat’s bow on several occasions and attach a tow line from the ALB, but each time the line from the powerboat parted as they started to tow her,” continued the spokesman.

“After several attempts, it was deemed too dangerous to try any other means of taking the boat under tow, and the ALB was stood down by Solent Coastguard and returned to station,” he concluded.

Commercial salvage of the Silverline A47 is being arranged.

Damage is estimated at £500,000.

The Cowes Classic 2016 Offshore Powerboat Race took place on 4 September.

It is recognised as one of powerboating’s toughest challenges.