N. IRELAND STRANGFORD LOUGH GP14 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS DINGHY RACING HIT BY VIOLENT STORM WAVE SURGE Multiple Collisions involving 105 boats - 97 in water - Casualities expected - Major Incident Plan Enacted Helicopter & lifeboat on site.
Belfast Coastguard was first contacted just before 2pm reporting that some of the boats had capsized, while others were struggling to cope in the strong winds and squally showers. A number of casualties are already ashore.
Very heavy rain and strong storm force winds reported. The Lough (LOCH) is a large sea inlet south of Belfast.
A rogue storm force gust of wind would be enough to capsize the light 2-person craft or break the removeable centre board keel.
The crews would all be wearing life vests and wet suits. Yachtsmen at this level would also be experienced in emergency recovery techniques.
Maritime SOLAS V regulations also apply to small craft, enforced by the RYA and local sailing clubs.
A search and rescue operation is ongoing and local reports suggest that all persons have now been accounted for.
The GP 14 is an inexpensive highly popular 2 person sailing dinghy and widely used by sailing clubs, it can easily can be towed behind a small car. The French version would be the Caravelle.
The GP14 was designed after WW2 by boat designer Jack Holt. The term GP comes from the descriptive General Purpose [GP] and the 14 from the length of the small open hull - just 14 feet.
The design shapy would enable the same craft to be used by all the family. A family cruise possibly powered by an outboard motor, rigged for racing or just a tender or rowing boat.
The shape and weight is such that a small family car can easily tow the craft. The DP14 is usually launched from its road trailer or moored. The original sail configuration comprise a main, and a small jib but the full modern rig of a mainsail, genoa and spinnaker and a trapeze are often seen when used in competition sailing.
JULIAN BRAY, Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security &Ops,Travel/Cruise Industry Expert, EQUITY, NUJ UK Tel: 01733 345581 (HOME ISDN NEW NUMBER 01733 345020) e&oe