A yachtsman has been rescued more than 500 miles off the coast of Cornwall.

HM Coastguard said a beacon alert was received for the UK-registered Vancouver 34 yacht Helena, 513 nautical miles south west of Lizard Point, at 12.20am yesterday.

French maritime patrol aircraft and RAF aircraft gave back up to locate the small vessel, which was found to be disabled and dis-masted in the Atlantic.

After communicating by radio on scene, the lone yachtsman confirmed that he was uninjured but needed to get off the yacht.

Two large commercial vessels subsequently offered their assistance for the rescue efforts, despite being over 20 hours away.

The Seaways Reymar, a 229 metre oil tanker, diverted to rendez-vous with the stricken yacht today and, in challenging conditions, the master and crew of the tanker were able to get the yachtsman onboard this afternoon, despite swells of three to four metres during the rescue.

They will now continue on their voyage to the USA.

HM Coastguard controller Matthew West said: "This long distance rescue has involved coordination with the French Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre and support from the RAF because at 500 miles offshore it is well beyond the range of rescue helicopters.

"The yachtsman was rescued by tremendous seamanship demonstrated by the master and crew of the Seaways Reymar, who diverted their course and remained on scene for eight hours to ensure the safe recovery of the sailor.

"As well as the skipper's EPIRB satellite beacon, which first alerted us to the situation on Friday, we were also aided by the fact that the vessel was transmitting on AIS which was very helpful in pinpointing the position of the yacht."