Queen Mary 2 cruise liner in rescue during "once in a lifetime" storm

Yachtsman, 73, saved by luxury liner

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Queen Mary 2

Luxury cruise liner Queen Mary 2 rescued a 73-year-old sailor taking part in a transatlantic yacht race after several vessels were damaged in an "extreme" north Atlantic storm.

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Mervyn Wheatley issued a mayday when his yacht Tamarind was knocked sideways and a porthole was smashed, sending water flooding into his boat, the BBC reports.

The "once in a lifetime storm" saw 15-metre waves and 60-knot winds, which left one race yacht sink and another lose its mast.

A Cunard spokesman said that the QM2 was involved in the rescue operation "at the request of the US Coastguard".

According to Associated Press, Canada's coast guard sent ships and air support to the boats and everyone was rescued, with no injuries reported.

Wheatley is now safely on board the QM3 heading for Halifax, Canada.

John Lewis, race director for the Royal Western Yacht Club, told the BBC: "I've been involved with these races for 25 years now, and this is the most extreme low depression going across the Atlantic at this time of year.

"So it's very unusual, but these are professional sailors, they're used to arduous conditions but not really a once in a lifetime storm like this one."

The boats were taking part in a race from Plymouth, UK to Newport, Rhode Island.