FOUR people were rescued after the mast on their 41ft yacht came crashing down, leaving them stranded in the Solent.
The towering mast broke on Monday afternoon, sparking an emergency response from Cowes RNLI lifeboat and Gosport lifeboat.
When crews arrived, the mast was left hangin over the starboard side of the vessel, together with sails and rigging.
The four occupants of the yacht – two men and two women – escaped injury.
A spokesman for the RNLI said: ‘Crew members from both lifeboats swarmed over the yacht, which was on charter, to carry out a full assessment.
‘When a strenuous attempt to lift the mast back on to the yacht failed, it was eventually decided that it, together with rigging and sails, should be cut free.
‘Cowes crew member Piers Tylor set to work with the task, using a hacksaw and bolt cutter.
‘The separation from the yacht became more urgent when there were signs the boat could soon be holed below the waterline by the mast rubbing against the hull.
‘Mast, sails and rigging was finally allowed to sink to the sea bed although a line attached to a marker buoy ensured they could all be safely recovered later by a commercial vessel.’
Cowes lifeboat started to to tow the crippled yacht, the Amalie, to Haslar, but then the job was taken over Gosport lifeboat.
The operation took about three hours, ending just after 5pm.