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Ex-Ipswich pupil rescued at sea

PUBLISHED: 08:38 25 June 2002 | UPDATED: 12:08 03 March 2010

PARENTS of a backpacker rescued from a sinking yacht in a fierce Pacific storm heard about the drama from friends 12,000 miles away - who watched it unfold live on television.

PARENTS of a former Ipswich schoolboy rescued from a sinking yacht in a fierce Pacific storm heard about the drama from friends 12,000 miles away — who watched it unfold live on television.

Family friends in Christchurch, New Zealand, were amazed when they watched the three-man crew of the stricken giant catamaran plucked to safety by a rescue helicopter, and recognised backpacker Tim Acton, who attended St Joseph's College, among them.

They called Tim's parents John and Lynne to tell them their 23-year-old son was safe after his terrifying ordeal.

The amazing rescue had been filmed live by the air sea rescue teams.

Businessman Mr Acton, from Wrabness near Harwich, Essex, said: "It just goes to show what an incredibly small place the world can be. Our friends John and Gronia Ryan were watching the local news on television when they saw an item about three people being rescued from a sinking catamaran after a huge freak storm in the Pacific.

"When they saw the victims being landed by helicopter they recognised Tim at once — he was wrapped in a thermal blanket and clutching a cup of tea — and called us straight away.

"He is suffering from concussion and cuts and bruising but otherwise he and the others are OK. But he has lost all his possessions and is being looked after by the Red Cross."

Tim was nine months into a two-year trip backpacking around the world. The accident happened after he agreed to help Hawaiian skipper Stevie Boyce sail the 40-foot boat back to Tahiti.

Speaking from New Zealand, Tim said: "We were about 25 miles off the coast of the North Island when conditions suddenly got much worse. After 30 hours of rough weather one huge wave smashed into the boat, cracking one of the hulls, and we knew we would sink."

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