A YACHT with three men onboard was spotted sinking into the water today - and it has been described as a "major Solent emergency".

Lifeboat crews rushed to the scene where the 40-foot yacht had lost its rudder and was taking on water.

It is believed to have snagged the anchor chain of a No 2 buoy at the entrance of Cowes Harbour.

The yacht, which was travelling to Cowes Harbour from Portsmouth, was drifting westwards and was seen sinking further into the water at midday.

Two of the yacht’s crew were quickly taken off by the crew transport craft and it was then boarded by two of the Cowes lifeboat crew with a salvage pump, but they found there was too much water to be effective, having by then reached as high as the yacht’s chart table.

When it became clear the yacht would sink, everyone was taken off the craft, and Cowes Harbour released a tow line to take the yacht further away from the shipping lane.

The yacht fully sank off Gurnard, leaving just part of the mast above the water.

River Medina-based crew transport vessel, Calshot RNLI lifeboat, a police launch, a Cowes Harbour launch, a catamaran and two car ferries belonging to Red Funnel attended the scene.

A marker buoy was put in place by the Cowes Harbour launch as a warning to other vessels.