Racing around the Isle of Wight in the Solent has a long tradition, and experienced skippers know that cutting the corner at the Needles often leads to victory.
Andrew Talbot, longtime skipper of Alchemist for her owner Mark Wynter, was at the helm July 2 when the yacht struck the wreck of SS Varvassi, a Greek cargo steamer that ran aground and sank in 1947. High winds and rough seas likely contributed to the accident.
In smooth water, Alchemist might have cleared the wreck, and she may have hit it as she plunged into a trough.
Wynter had lent the boat to Talbot for the weekend and was not aboard. Losing a boat is never pleasant, but in this case it was a 30-foot Half-Tonner designed for Wynter by the late Ed Dubois and built of cold-molded wood in 1977.
Alchemist took on water through a breach in her bow and sank in 55 feet of water within minutes of the collision. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution rescued the yacht’s crew of six and took them to safety ashore. No one was injured.