Sussex lifeboatmen who braved raging seas in pitch darkness to save a couple as their yacht sank are to be honoured.

Eastbourne RNLI coxswain Mark Sawyer, 40, and mechanic Dan Guy, 23, are to receive gallantry medals.

The two sailors were attempting to enter Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne, on board the 33ft yacht Paperchase.

But stormy seas and a force eight south-easterly gale made navigating the entrance too perilous. Waves up to 3m high swamped the boat, throwing the couple into the water as it began to sink.

The woman was clinging on to her semi-conscious partner. As she was dragged on board the lifeboat with lifelines, she let go.

Mr Guy leapt into the sea and dragged the man back to the boat, undoubtedly saving his life on October 20 last year.

The couple, from Cowes on the Isle of Wight, were taken to Eastbourne District General Hospital suffering from shock and hypothermia. Both made a full recovery.

Mr Sawyer will receive the RNLI's silver medal for gallantry and Mr Guy will be awarded the bronze medal.

Mr Sawyer said: "There was a real possibility it could have ended in two fatalities but we had full confidence in the crew and it was a real team effort.

Mr Guy said: "I didn't really have time to think. It was by far the most testing rescue I've been involved in."

Medal service certificates will go to crewmen Ben Delaunay, 48, Keith Murphy, 47, Mark Osbourn, 48, David Riley, 23, and Richard Welch, 30.

Jason Foster, the lock keeper at Sovereign Harbour, receives a letter of thanks from the RNLI's chief executive.