SHE will race again.

Owners of a yacht which featured in one of the most popular TV series of the 1980s say their vessel will return to the water after it was salvaged from the bottom of the River Hamble.

The Flying Fish, seen in the opening credits of BBC series Howards’ Way, sank at the entrance to the river following a collision with another vessel during a race.

Owners Rupert and Kathy Smalley escaped the sinking boat, a Laser 28 craft, with two other crew members without injury after first trying to get the vessel back to port.

Divers refloat the sunken yacht

“We were very lucky and are still quite shocked by what happened,” said Mr Smalley.

“We tried getting back to port but she filled up with water very quickly. It was then a case of making sure she was salvageable.”

The Flying Fish crew were helped to safety by a passing motorboat before the yacht sank to the bottom of the Hamble with just the mast sticking up above the surface.

Eyewitness Tris Turner, 17, from Warsash, said the boat went down in seconds.

The Howards' Way theme

“I was dinghy racing and we could see this boat in trouble. We could see four people on board and they were bailing water out.

“Then they scrambled to the bow of the yacht with all their bags and the whole thing went down in about 20 seconds.”

Yesterday morning divers and recovery crews spent hours inflating giant air-bags to refloat the sunken yacht before towing it to a boatyard where Mr Smalley could assess the damage.

“The rudder is stuffed and there is a hole underneath but the hull is repairable and the mast is still good. There will need to be a lot of work to the inside and the electrics but it could be a lot worse.”

Mr Smalley bought the boat seven years ago and regularly takes part in races with his wife, last year competing in 45 events. “To anyone of a certain age group they will remember the television show which was compulsive viewing in the 1980s. We are still waiting to hear the full cost of the damage but the old girl from Howards’ Way will race again.”