A MILITARY amputee is delighted with his team of fellow ex-servicemen after they sailed to a top-half finish in a 600-mile yacht race.

Geoff Newport, 45, of Haydon Wick, who lost his left leg below the knee while serving with the Army in Afghanistan, took to the seas around Britain with 14 others in a team representing the charity British Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association (BLESMA) in the 44th Rolex Fastnet Race two weeks ago.

The crew started the 600-mile race from Cowes in the Isle of Wight on a yacht named the Spirit of Juno, loaned to them by the Portsmouth charter company Ondeck.

The crew faced 314 teams all the way down the Channel, round the Lizard, up to the Fastnet Rock off the south of Ireland and back across the Irish Sea to finish in Plymouth.

The team finished 126th against teams of able-bodied and professional sailors.

Geoff said: “We did incredibly well considering there was some horrendous weather on the way out.

“The start was amazing, with 350 yachts all trying to get through a small gap – it was lucky there wasn’t a multi-yacht pile-up.

“Then we were flying across the Irish Sea and caught a westerly wind, which meant we finished very well – we were back in the bar before some people had reached the rock.

“I feel humble because the guys I was doing it with were brilliant We had a 72-year-old leg amputee called Tom and he was just unbelievable. He was powering away – I was tired just watching him.

“There were no complaints and some coarse Army humour got us through.

“I was a very small part of it all – I just helped steer it. It’s like standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Geoff said there were a few scary moments, including the foresail getting damaged and hearing on the radio the news of the US yacht Rambler 100 capsizing.

He said: “We badly damaged the number one foresail and went nearly the whole way looking like we had received cannon fire due to the numerous holes, but luckily it held out.

“Then we heard the Rambler had gone over from the Coastguard and thought we might have to go and help them out. But they were all right in the end and were only in the water a couple of hours. That was a massive boat too – you looked at it and thought ‘whoa that’s expensive’.”