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Tall ship crew turned rescuers

DEC. 13 — The crew of a British tall ship, including a number of people with physical disabilities, helped rescue seven French sailors during a storm in the Atlantic last week.

The 177-foot Tenacious was about 900 miles from the Caribbean Saturday during a 30-day sail from Gran Canaria to Antigua when the crew was contacted by the BritishMaritimeRescueCo-ordinationCenter about a French yacht in distress, news reports say. The 43-foot disabled sailboat, Zouk, lost its rudder and had been adrift for six days.

Despite heavy seas and winds, the Tenacious crew located Zouk and launched an inflatable boat to transfer the Zouk crew aboard the tall ship, reports say. An attempt to tow Zouk was abandoned because the boat was unable to steer without a rudder. The crews decided to scuttle the smaller boat.

“Rather than allow the stricken yacht to become a hazard to other vessels, Tenacious was forced to give [Zouk] a nudge and help her roll over so she would wink,” one Tenacious crewmember says in a news report.

Tenacious is called “the largest Class A wooden built tall ship in the world” by its owners, the Jubilee Sailing Trust of Southampton, England. Of the 36 people on board, 12 reportedly have physical disabilities, with three in wheelchairs. The Jubilee Sailing Trust offers sailing excursions aboard tall ships for people with disabilities.

Earlier this month the crew of the world’s largest single-masted yacht, Mirabella V, at 247 feet LOA, rescued the crew of Compromise, a Nicholson 32 competing in the ARC, according to news reports. A crewmember apparently became concerned about the mental health of Compromise’s skipper and felt that safety aboard was being compromised.

Tenacious is heading for Antigua and expected to arrive Dec. 22, reports say.

Jason Fell