TRYSTAN Seal, bowman on the Volvo Ocean Race yacht Scallywag which lost a man overboard off Cape Horn, has come home to Ceredigion to question plans to get rid of the all-weather lifeboat from his home port.

As the Volvo Ocean Race arrived in Cardiff, Trystan said he was incredulous to discover the downgrading of the all-weather lifeboat at New Quay in Cardigan Bay, leaving a gap in all-weather search and rescue provision of 63 miles,

The downgrade decision has been made by the RNLI following a coastal review, which will see the all-weather boat replaced by an Atlantic-class inshore boat by 2020.

There has been an all-weather lifeboat in the town for more than 150 years and objections by the local community say it will put lives of seafarers and lifeboat crew at greater risk.

The Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign (CLC) was formed in July 2017 in order to challenge the RNLI’s decision and has attracted cross-party support. More than 22,000 people have signed a petition opposing the RNLI’s plan to downgrade lifesaving provision in Ceredigion.

“I was pretty outraged when I heard they were going to down grade the New Quay lifeboat, I think it is an unnecessary thing to do,” said Trystan.

“What is there at the moment seems to work and I don’t think they should be downgrading it to an Atlantic 85 and restricting the weather capabilities, it’s quite a big hit for the community and safety at sea in New Quay.

“On Scallywag, when we were sailing form Auckland to Brazil, unfortunately we lost a man overboard and, having been in a situation like that, you know the helplessness you feel on board a boat in really rough weather, when you really want that help and it’s not available. It’s a scary place to be.

“My family are generations of New Quay sailors, that’s where we have always sailed and where I grew up and, with the increased traffic in Cardigan Bay, there is going to be more need than ever for a lifeboat of all-weather capability.

“It is ridiculous to leave such a big gap in the service by the RNLI. You can’t put a price on people’s lives.”

Scallywag’s crew safety officer, John Fisher, 47, was knocked over the side of the boat 1,400 nautical miles west of Cape Horn in the Southern Ocean and was never found.

The Volvo Ocean Race began in the Spanish port of Alicante in October 2017 and has stopped in cities such as Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong and Newport, Rhode Island, before arriving in Wales for the first time in its 43-year history.