Sir Ben rescued near Branson island

Published: Monday 12th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Sir Richard Branson claims staff from his private island retreat had to go to the aid of Olympic medallist Sir Ben Ainslie after the sailor had problems with his yacht while on honeymoon.

The four-times gold medallist married TV sports presenter Georgie Thompson last month in a ceremony at Hampton Court Palace.

But as they holidayed close to Sir Richard’s Necker Island, in the British Virgin Islands, their boat ran into difficulties when the furling system – which controls the sail being rolled out – broke.

Members of the island’s watersports team – Marco Bava, George Lambert and Adam Chubbock -helped to cut the sail and avoid the vessel being wrecked on a reef and the Virgin tycoon has allowed them to stay on the island for a few days.

Writing about the incident in a blog, Sir Richard said of 37-year-old Sir Ben’s plight: “His boat had a serious mechanical problem, in no way Ben’s fault, and he put a message out asking for help. Three of our wonderful watersports team … heard the call and raced over to their aid.

“The furling system broke on the main sail and the sail became so twisted that it couldn’t go up, down, in or out.

“The only way to avoid going onto the reefs was for Marco to go to the top to cut the sail to pieces, whilst George and Ben were winching Marco up and down and Georgie was helping in the boat. Unsurprisingly, Ben kept an amazingly cool head whilst directing operations – he just needed more hands to sort out the mess.

“Together, the team helped to stop the boat from wrecking on the Moskito reef. With no harm done, Ben was able to see the funny side – after all, stranger things have happened at sea. We are now hosting him and Georgie on the island for a few days.”

Sir Richard and the much-decorated yachtsman have had troubles at sea together when they had to abandon an attempt to set an Atlantic crossing record in 2008 when powerful winds and high waves damaged their boat.

Published: Monday 12th January 2015 by The News Editor

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