THE future of a Hampshire-based yacht that had to be evacuated in Indonesian seas after hitting a submerged reef was today hanging in the balance.

Sixteen crew members including one from Fareham were on board 68ft clipper Cork when it was holed near the island Gosong Mampango in the Java Sea, 200 miles north east of Jakarta.

The stranded sailors were forced to abandon the boat in emergency life rafts before being picked up by two of its sister ships competing in the Clipper Round the World Race.

The ten-strong fleet had been heading to Singapore from Western Australia when Irish entry Cork hit an underwater reef and became stuck.

Among the crew was 40-yearold Alan Moss from Fareham, an air traffic controller at National Air Traffic Services in Whiteley.

Eight sailors were put onboard nearby yacht California, now headed for the race finish at Batam.

The other eight were moved to Team Finland which was last night on standby to help with the salvage of Cork, skippered by 27- year-old Derry sailor Richie Fearon.

Last night the yacht was still stranded on its side on the reef with damage to its hull.

Passports and other valuables were saved by the crew during their evacuation.

A spokesman for race organisers Clipper Ventures, the Gosportbased company led by sailing legend Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, said a naval architect onboard yacht Edinburgh was due to assess the damage to Cork this morning to determine whether the yacht was salvageable.

She added that if Cork cannot continue the race, places will be available onboard the other nine yachts for the remaining legs.

Sir Robin added: “Clearly our priority has been the safety of the crew and we have confirmation that all on board have evacuated and are now safe.”

Cork ran into trouble in strong winds and rough seas at around 4am Indonesian time.

They radioed the California Clipper and Team Finland for help and abandoned ship in life rafts.

The boat’s sister ships were only around four nautical miles away and arrived on the scene as daylight broke.

The Cork Clipper crew then braved the stormy seas once again to paddle out to the two rescue boats.