THERE were dramatic scenes on a North-East beach this afternoon when a fishing boat taking part in an annual competition in memory of a drowned man capsized in heavy seas.

Four people from the boat were washed ashore, off Saltburn sea front. A fifth man, from another fishing boat, was air lifted to hospital with facial injuries after his boat overturned in the same heavy swell.

It is not yet clear if he too was taking part in the annual fishing match in memory of local man Jim Maidens, who drowned in similar circumstances.

The first four were thrown into the water about 150 metres off The Ship Inn, Saltburn.

They had been competing for the Redcar Lifeboat Crew Trophy - and it was both the RNLI's two lifeboats stationed at Redcar which went to the rescue.

One of the crews rescued a traumatised woman who witnessed the capsizing of 20ft long Look Far - the boat the four men had been in.

She was travelling in one of four boats struggling to keep upright in the broken water, behind Look Far when she saw the craft capsize.

Dave Cammish, RNLI operations chief at Redcar, said: "The first boat started to capsize in the broken water, some distance off the Ship Inn, throwing four people into the water. They struggled ashore and sometime later their boat was washed up on the beach.

"The young female was just traumatised by what she saw happen," he explained.

The lifeboats escorted a number of small fishing boats, which had been taking part in the competition, to safety.

A spokesman for the Great North Air Ambulance said he did not know if the casualty flown to Middlesbrough's James Cook Hospital, with facial injuries, had been taking part in the fishing trophy competition.

He said the helicopter had initially been called out to help the four men thrown over board together - when Cleveland Police diverted the crew to help the injured man - aged in his 40s who was washed up on the beach, on his own.

Father-of-two, Jim Maidens, aged 50, was a self-employed plumber was swept overboard by a freak wave within yards of the beach at Saltburn, in September 1998. The accident happened close to Penny's Hole, at Huntcliffe, when the part-time fisherman was returning with a friend on the seven-metre boat, the Calypso.

A large wave turned the boat sideways and both men fell out. The friend reached the shore safely.