| 24.1°C Dublin

20 rescued from lough as squall hits race

A YACHT race descended into chaos when around 20 people ended up in the water after their boats capsized in a sudden squall.

The incident happened on Strangford Lough in the North during the GP14 World Championships.

A major rescue operation was put in place yesterday afternoon when it was feared that as many as 95 competitors may have been tossed into the water by the choppy conditions.

The Irish Coast Guard sent a helicopter from Dublin while a second was sent from RAF Valley in Wales to help local Coast Guard and RNLI rescue teams.


The Ulster Hospital declared a major incident as it awaited the arrival of casualties.

In the end, only two people sustained minor injuries while many more were reported as suffering from mild hypothermia.

It was later confirmed by the Coast Guard in the North that the number of people who were thrown into the water was about 20.

Liam Colquhoun, the watch manager at Belfast Coast Guard, described the weather conditions at the scene as "pretty treacherous, with winds gusting up to 60mph".

"We're very thankful that everyone has now safely returned," he said.

The GP14 World Championships has seen one of the biggest fleets of single-class twin-crew dinghies assemble in Northern Ireland.