Germans tell of first leg sinking

And they've got a surprise in store

After their boat sank on the first leg of the Round Britain Powerboat Race, the crew of Blue Marlin could have been forgiven for taking to the nearest pub – and staying there.

But German Marcus Hendricks and his team are not ones to wallow.

Determined to ‘catch up with the party’ after suffering such a heartbreaking start, they are chartering a Sunseeker Predator 72 to welcome the fleet back into Portsmouth.

“We can’t race it but we are going to put our spare race numbers on the side and we can at least greet the Historic fleet,” says Marcus.

“We will hold a reception at Gunwharf Quays for them.”

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In a desperate effort to rejoin the race, Marcus initially tried to buy another boat in the hope of at least doing the final leg, from Lowestoft to Portsmouth.

Sadly, no suitable craft was available in time.

After months of preparation and a hefty financial investment, Marcus admits it has been hard sitting at home back in Germany and following the race on the internet.

His beloved Supermarine Swordfish – one of only a few in existence – was running like a dream in rough conditions on leg one last Saturday.

“We had a very good start,” he recalls. “It was all quite funny.

“Eventually it got a bit rougher and as we approached the western side of Lyme Bay we came across Gee, who had taken the inshore route.

“We were racing each other, the water was now calm and it was nice and easy. Both of us were probably thinking how to go faster – can we throw our crew overboard, can we lose some of our fuel?

“At that very moment I had the helm and throttle in my hand and I suddenly heard the revs go down.

“The boat’s momentum dropped and we heard the bilge pump alarms.

“By the time we had the hatches up and were looking what was going on, we could see water. One of us dived down and we realised there was a big round hole.

“It was roughly where the water level would have hit the hull as we went along and between the stringers.

“The hole was so big that the pumps could not cope with it and we could not get the boat watertight.

“From the moment we throttled down to the moment it sunk was about 10 minutes.”

Marcus believes the boat hit a partly submerged object.

He says: “Gee didn’t see it, we didn’t see it. I don’t know what it was. We didn’t have time to check. It could have been a timber or an old container. The middle of Lyme Bay is already open sea.”

He says the crew of Gee, who continued on to the finish, could not have known that Blue Marlin were in trouble. And amid the drama, he praises the professionalism of his crew Nigel Davies, Jens Dietz and Mark Watkinson.

“We were four people on board. Two were working on the boat, one was working on the liferaft. He proceeded to put the liferaft overboard without inflating it.

“I started to contact race control and we put all the parts lying around on the boat in the liferaft, like binoculars and clothes and of course safety kit.”

As they did so, Tequila, the Scorpion RIB of Jeremy Bennett and Tim Kary arrived on the scene.

“We had a bit of fun talking about it,” laughs Marcus. “Our safety procedure worked nicely. Nobody got wet. While our boat was sinking, we got away from it in the raft and climbed into Tequila.

“We watched the nose of our boat raise up and it was gone by the time we could see the lifeboat from Brixham arriving.

“Tequila offered to take us to Plymouth but we had so much kit that we then transferred to the lifeboat.”

Marcus, who is a Supermarine Swordfish dealer in Germany, looks back: “It was like sitting somewhere watching telly. We just did our jobs in the rescue and the time went by. There was no time to find it strange. It just happened.

“It was like an engine breakdown. Only this time the boat sank.”

Picture: Marcus (third from right) and crew meet HRH The Princess Royal at the pre-race reception on Friday.


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