A team of Royal Navy aviators, including Olympic torch-bearer Corporal Justin Morgan, have carried out a dramatic night-time rescue.
A search and rescue team from 771 Naval Air Squadron at Culdrose tackled 40-ft waves last night to rescue a man 70 miles out to sea.
The duty helicopter crew at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose were called just before 8pm and scrambled from their Helston base.
They searched the seas for more than an hour and found the man when he lit a flare on his 20-ft yacht.
The Navy team, made up of captain and pilot Lieutenant Commander Adam Jones, observer Lt Cdr Florry Ford, flying pilot Lt Cdr Andy Knight and aircrewman Corporal Justin Morgan, had to work out the safest way to get the man away from his yacht.
They followed normal procedures until the man jumped into the water in his desperation to be rescued.
Cpl Morgan was winched down to rescue the sailor. He said:
“The waves made it very difficult to search for him in very poor visibility.
“The sailor had fallen over on his yacht while trying to fix his masts and rigging. He slipped and injured his ankle.
“We lowered a hi-line to him, which should enable the winchman to be lowered safely onto the deck of the boat.
“But the sailor was so desperate to get off the yacht that he tied the hi-line around his waist and jumped into the water.
“We then had to act very quickly to ensure his safety.”
Justin was lowered into the water by Lt Cdr Ford and had to try and pull the sailor on the line by hand towards him. He said:
“I knew that I couldn’t let go of the 200ft rope, even though it was very heavy, or we would lose the sailor.
“It was really difficult to pull him towards me because of the extremely high waves.
“Eventually I had to inflate my own lifejacket to make things easier and I managed to get the strop around him so the crew could winch him to safety.
“But the 200-ft rope was still tangled around us, so I had to cut parts of it from us first.
“When we were eventually winched back safely to the helicopter we lay on the floor, thinking about what we had been through. It was an epic job.”
The casualty was taken to the Royal Cornwall Hospital.
Earlier this year Justin was one of the crew who transported the Olympic Flame from RNAS Culdrose to Lands End at the start of the torch relay.
On Wednesday the Royal Marine will begin his attempt to cycle 3,100 miles across the USA in 17 days to raise money for the Children’s Hospice South West and the Royal Marines Benevolent Fund. For more information, please visit www.3100miles.co.uk