A HIGH-speed catamaran run by double Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson destroyed a Cowes Week spectator's boat and left a woman injured.

It struck a spectator's rigid-hulled inflatable (Rib) boat shortly after the start of iShares Cup racing off Egypt Point, on Cowes Esplanade yesterday.

One woman on board the spectator's boat was taken to hospital with a suspected broken leg.

Dee Caffari, the only woman in history to sail solo and non-stop both ways around the world, was a passenger on board the catamaran when the incident happened.

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Spokeswoman Jo Uffendell, a member of the Aviva Ocean Racing Team, said: "At the beginning of the race, a spectator Rib got too close to the action and the catamaran struck the spectator boat."

She said the Rib was "written off" but added: "Everybody's safe."

It is understood the Rib was on the race course when the incident happened.

An iShares Cup spokeswoman said the injured woman, Dorothy Haslam, "received immediate, preliminary first-aid assistance on the water before being transferred to shore and admitted to Newport Hospital".

She said the incident happened in the first race shortly after 2.30pm on the Solent.

She added: "The race direction team are undertaking a full assessment of how the incident occurred. However, on the water, rules are clear that vessels under motorised power must keep clear of boats under sail.

"The spectator Rib was a private vessel and not part of the official organisation."

She added that medical examinations had shown Mrs Haslam had suffered only bruising and was recovering well.