Clipper Race crew knocked down by Tornado

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Dramatic footage has been released today of the moment the GREAT Britain team were hit by a tornado as they competed in the world’s longest and toughest ocean race, which returns to London this Saturday (12 July) after covering more than 40,000 miles between six continents over eleven months.

670 Novice sailors from all walks of life, aged 18-74, were trained to take on the biennial Clipper Race, currently in its ninth edition. It is regarded as one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges.

Crew have experienced a wide range of weather conditions from the benign to the extreme: in addition to the tornado incident they have endured being knocked down by giant waves, battled hurricane force winds, dodged icebergs and growlers; extreme heat and cold; be on alert for pirates; had coast guard assisted medical evacuations and a miraculous rescue of a man overboard after being lost in a Pacific storm for over an hour.

Teams will return transformed by their experience to a heroes’ welcome for conquering the oceans, a truly remarkable achievement in a unique global race series.

Footage of the tornado incident and crew interview can be seen here on You Tube

The film is from a fixed on-board camera attached to the mast looking down towards the stern. It shows the team in challenging conditions a week out of Australia heading towards the equator with heavy rain and squalls battering the fleet. The waterspout was pretty invisible in the conditions at the time and hit without warning, rolling the boat through 120 degrees pinning the mast down on the ocean’s surface in swirling winds over 100 knots.

Crew are thrown into the sea on their tethers and scrabble to hang onto the boat which starts to right itself as the tornado passes and is visible in the upper left hand side of the screen disappearing into the distance as the crew start to clamber back onto their feet.

Crew member Paul Hardy (43) is an IT consultant from Brighton; he is seen desperately trying to grab onto the mast after he is submerged into the sea as the yacht is hit by the tornado. He said: “All of a sudden the wind picked up and the noise picked up…water started to rise and I knew there was something wrong… I tried to get out of the water and climb up onto the mast and then saw the water spout.”