Crews on board a historic sailing vessel which was at risk of sinking have been safely rescued thanks to volunteer RNLI crews from Cornwall.

Crews from Padstow, Sennen Cove and Penlee along with the Falmouth Coastguard responded to an urgent request from those onboard the 23m sailing vessel, ‘Leader’.

It was taking on water 11 miles west of Trevose Head. Padstow RNLI launched its all-weather lifeboat shortly after 7.30pm.

Padstow Lifeboat Volunteers then escorted the vessel and transferred two of their crew on board to assist the eight-strong crew of Leader, before handing over to the Sennen Cove lifeboat to support the casualty vessel around Land's End, back to Penlee Lifeboat which took over escort duties again. 

Penlee lifeboat escorted the Brixham trawler to Newlyn, the nearest safe harbour that could accommodate a vessel of its size.

In a shout involving three RNLI lifeboats lasting ten hours in total, the RNLI's volunteer crews brought the casualty vessel and its crew of eight to safety.

The vessel, Leader, is owned by the Atlantic Youth Trust, an Irish youth development charity. The boat was built in 1892 and measures 23m long without bowsprits making it the largest Brixham trawler ever built.

Peter Scallan of the Atlantic Youth Trust said: ‘Me and my colleagues would like to thank the RNLI for its attendance to leader last night.

“The prompt response to the pagers and the friendly and professional manner in which the crew dealt with the situation was very much appreciated.

‘In particular, we would like to thank the two crew members who boarded Leader to assist with the pumping represented the best of the RNLI and were very supportive of the skipper, mate and crew of Leader.

‘On behalf of all at Atlantic Youth Trust, we want to thank the RNLI and wish them congratulations for 200 years of success in saving lives at sea, and particular best wishes to the crew attending the garden party at Buckingham Palace today.’