By Humphrey Carter THE unsettled weather conditions yesterday not only caught the crew of a yacht by surprise but also people strolling along the beach in Porto Cristo. Just before 1.30 yesterday afternoon, the six-strong French crew of a 15-metre chartered sailing yacht apparently lost control of the vessel as the weather suddenly changed and the waves picked up, throwing the yacht on to Port Cristo beach.

Scores of eye witnesses, some of whom had been walking along the beach as the yacht crashed onto the sand, raised the alarm and the emergency services feared the worst for the crew of three men and three women.

A major emergency operation was mounted involving all of the security and safety forces; the Guardia Civil, the Port Authority, Air Sea Rescue, the Local Police and Civil Protection.

Police reached the scene to find the yacht leaning at a sharp angle against the promenade with the top of her mast hanging precariously over a restaurant terrace.

The area was cordoned off and nautical engineers set about containing any possible leak of fuel from her tanks into the sea. Fortunately, all of the crew escaped unhurt, albeit they were a little shaken by the ordeal. Engineers from the chandler from which the luxury sailing yacht had been chartered were also on the scene quickly and spent yesterday afternoon assessing the damage to their yacht and how best to lift her off the beach safely.

While engineers inspected the yacht, she was securely tied to the promenade to protect her from being suddenly dragged back out to sea and any further damage.

Scores of tourists lined the promenade to watch the drama unfold. Many took pictures and video footage of the scene to take home as rare souvenirs and reminders of the Majorcan holiday.