Norwich sailor takes part in dramatic sea rescue

Jon WelchA Norwich sailor taking part in a round-the-world yacht race was at the centre of a rescue at sea after a rival boat began sinking in Indonesian watersJon Welch

A Norwich sailor taking part in a round-the-world yacht race was at the centre of a rescue at sea after a rival boat began sinking in Indonesian waters

Graham Patrick, 60, was on board California Clipper, one of two vessels that came to the aid of the Cork Clipper, which holed upon a submerged reef near the island Gosong Mampango in the Java Sea, 200 miles north east of Jakarta.

Five Britons and eight Irish people were among the 16 people forced to abandon the stricken yacht in life rafts and head for nearby rocks.

They then waited to be picked up by California Clipper and another rival yacht, Team Finland. All are safe and well.

Irishman Sean Coote, 47, a member of the Cork Clipper crew, said: 'After our evacuation and on reaching the island it was unreal to look back and see Cork on her side with waves breaking over the port beam.

'Our life raft was picked up approximately half an hour after leaving the island by the California crew who were immediately on hand with biscuits and hot tea. Thoughts are now turning to contacting family and re-assuring them that we are OK.

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'We are grateful to have escaped with no major injuries and proud to have rallied together as team and survived a harrowing ordeal and test of our resilience.'

Celebrated sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, chairman of the race organisers Clipper Ventures, said: 'Clearly our priority has been the safety of the crew and we have confirmation that all on board have evacuated and are now safe. Their welfare is our prime concern at this time.'

The 68-foot yacht was left lying on her side and has suffered damage to her hull.

Falmouth Coastguard raised the alarm with international rescue services after being contacted by Team Finland at around 8pm UK time on Wednesday.

All three yachts were taking part in the 35,000-mile Clipper Round the World Race, which started in Hull in September and is due to finish there in July. It is the only such race for non-professional sailors.

Mr Patrick, instrumentation department manager at Hethel-based Lotus Engineering, had joined the crew of California Clipper in Cape Town for the third leg of the race to Geraldton, Australia.

The yachts were on the fourth leg which started on January 3, Mr Patrick's 60th birthday, and will take them to Singapore and on to Quingdao, China. Mr Patrick is due to stay aboard for the fifth leg to San Francisco.

Before joining the race in November, he said: 'I'm doing this for a number of reasons but one is to support Marie Curie Cancer Care. They gave tremendous help during the last months of my wife's life two years ago.'

On a personal blog detailing his voyage, he wrote: 'My wife died from breast cancer at 56 two years ago. She told me to do something challenging before she died, and this is certainly that.'

California is now making her way on towards Singapore with eight of the Cork team on board. The remaining eight crew members, including skipper Richie Fearon, are on Team Finland which continues to monitor the situation.

Are you undertaking the challenge of a lifetime? Contact reporter Jon Welch on 01603 772476 or email