A yacht suffered extensive damage on Thursday evening after it was struck by a wave between Gansbaai and the Cape Agulhas, resulting in its skipper falling overboard. The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) from Hermanus and Alguhas were activated after a distress call was issued by the Transet National Ports Authority (TNPA).
The yacht, called Silver Girl, was sailing as part of the Mossel Bay Yacht Race when their skipper, Melvin Rautenbach, fell overboard. The race took place between Simonstown and Mossel Bay, and was struck by the wave at Quoin Point – this occurred 10 nautical miles offshore.
Rescue crafts searched extensively for the missing Rautenbach to no avail. The search continued well into the early hours of Friday morning despite rough sea conditions, five-metre swells and a gale-force West North Westerly wind.
“Despite an extensive search no sign of the missing skipper has been found,” the NSRI said. “Sea conditions grew increasingly unfavourable as the search progressed and sea swells exceeded 6 metres.”
The yacht’s tiller arm was damaged after it was reportedly broadsided by a wave and failing battery power caused motor mechanical failure. The crew onboard remained adrift at sea and were in no imminent danger while NSRI continued their search.
“Royal Cape Yacht Club members are assisting with the support of Melvin’s wife, Shama Nathoo, at her home in Cape Town,” the Institute said. “During the early hours of Friday morning the search was suspended and NSRI Hermanus are towing the casualty craft to Hermanus harbour and the Police Dive Unit and NSRI Air Sea Rescue have been placed on alert.”
Telkom Maritime Radio Services continue to broadcast a radio message to alert vessels in the area to keep watch, and the search will continue.