A baptism of fire saw Ilfracombes new lifeboat make its first rescues last night. The new Shannon class was launched to save two yachtsmen in rough seas some five miles off Woody Bay. The fast all weather lifeboat The Barry and Peggy High Foundation reached the struggling yacht The Penny Lass just 25 minutes after it was launched. The boat had been sailing from Wales and was enroute to Watermouth Harbour with two men aboard and had encountered diesel problems. The weather had deteriorated faster than they had expected with winds southerly force 7, gusting 9 and squally showers. They were also battling a strong tide. All communication with them had been lost, but the lifeboat spotted two red distress flares and was able to reach the vessel and tow it to calmer waters off Lynmouth. They discovered the pair had pre-existing medical conditions, so while their yacht was towed to Watermouth, the inshore lifeboat was called out to help transfer the people to shore and into the care of waiting coastguard teams. Andrew Bengey, volunteer RNLI coxswain said: It was certainly a baptism of fire for our first shout with near gale conditions and a very rough sea, my crew and our new lifeboat certainly saved two lives. I am extremely proud of what has been achieved by such a dedicated team.