Five youngsters call on the help of the RNLI after two seven-metre Sonars collide

Five youngsters out to prove themselves in Cowes Week racing today had to instead call on the help of Cowes RNLI lifeboat when their seven-metre Sonar open keel boat was involved in a collision with another Sonar.

The incident occurred at the mouth of Southampton Water at lunch-time, when the Sonar ‘Geronimo’ received a gash on the port side, just above the waterline. Eventually the crew, all from Shoreham, decided to use their mobile to seek help via Solent coastguards.

After a considerable search in driving rain Cowes lifeboat eventually located the boat in the yacht-crowded Solent and towed it to Cowes Corinthian Sailing Club’s pontoon for on-shore repairs.

Oliver Beaney, Geronimo’s navigator, said later: “Considering the terrible visibility, probably down to 100 metres, the lifeboat did really well finding us so quickly. Although the hole was above the waterline we feared we would take on water once we tacked, and there was really nothing for it but to retire.”

The five youngsters, some of whom have hopes of taking part in the World Sonar Championships in Scotland, expect Geronimo to be repaired and ready for racing again tomorrow.

Although Richard O’Callaghan was in charge of the lifeboat he handed the helm to experienced crew-member Kirsty Walker for the tow to Cowes. “And she performed brilliantly, not only with the tow but in bringing the boat alongside the Cowes Corinthian pontoon,” he added.