TRAGEDY was narrowly averted on Monday night, after the sea almost claimed the life of American businessman George David in the Rolex Fastnet Race.

Shortly after rounding Fastnet Rock, David’s yacht Rambler 100 capsized in high seas after the keel broke off with a “sickening sound”, sweeping the former United Technologies chairman into the Irish Sea. “There was no time to react,” said crew member Mick Harvey. “The boat turned turtle, just like a dinghy would.”

Most of the crew climbed onto the upturned hull, but David and his partner Wendy Touton were among the five sailors who were swept away out of reach, linking arms in the water for two-and-a-half hours before being rescued by Irish coastguards.

Meanwhile, ICAP Leopard, the 100-foot yacht owned by Helical Bar chief executive Mike Slade, arrived safely in Plymouth harbour in the early hours of yesterday morning – although the 2007 record set by Slade was demolished by the Volvo Open 70 Abu Dhabi.

Not a great result for the City then – The Capitalist hears Slade is even considering declaring this year’s Fastnet Race his last, ahead of a planned “major refit” for ICAP Leopard over the winter that will transform her into a luxury superyacht. Perhaps he can invite George David on board for a well-deserved holiday…

HOME from home for Richard Desmond, who showed up to the launch of Big Brother as the reality show moves to Channel 5 for the first time.

“You’ve done us proud,” declared Endemol chief executive Tim Hincks as he took in the new BB house, where no expense has been spared to make sure it looks “glorious” in HD broadcast.

In fact, the house is so comfortable that some guests said they wouldn’t mind moving in for a spell themselves. Surely it’s good enough for Speaker’s wife Sally Bercow then (right), rumoured to be taking part in the Celebrity Big Brother format that airs tomorrow – it even contains a gym, for goodness’ sake.

“We won’t confirm the celebrities until the show starts,” said The Capitalist’s man in the Diary Room, although he suggested the speculation is “pretty accurate”. So that’s a yes, then. Sally Bercow on the treadmill – this one could run and run…

BANKER by day; special constable by night. Such is the life of Patrick Rarden, vice president and head of execution sales at State Street, who regularly uses his banking expertise to advise the City of London Police’s economic crime team.

But last week, Rarden was in uniform to support the police as the riots gathered momentum, working from 2pm to 2am last Tuesday night as a duty sergeant, returning to the US bank on Wednesday, and then putting in a 6pm to 2am police shift that evening.

Rarden was one of 37 City workers who volunteered as a special last week, putting in more than 500 hours of duty between them. Other part-time police included Andy Rowe of Prudential, Darren Sevket of Barclays Capital, Rosie Phipson of PwC and Chris Smith of trading technology firm Formicary Collaboration, who was given time off by his chief operating officer Howard Travers to allow him to work every shift.