Injured Racing Yacht Crewmembers Rescued


The U.S. Coast Guard this morning successfully transferred two injured crewmembers from the racing yacht CV6 Geraldton Western Australia to one of its cutters, according to the yacht’s website.

Jane Hitchens, 50, a doctor, has suspected broken ribs and Nik Brbora, 29, a software engineer, has a suspected pelvic strain, the website said.

The website quoted the U.S. Coast Guard as saying:

U.S. coastguards scrambled to help Sunday a yacht hit by severe weather in the Pacific, and bring medical assistance to at least two Britons and one Australian who have been injured, officials said.

The 68-foot “CV6 Geraldton Western Australia” was struck by a large wave some 400 miles off the California coast, which swept away its steering wheel and some communications equipment, race organizers said.

Four crew members sustained injuries, including suspected broken ribs, and are being treated by medically trained colleagues on the boat, which is one of 10 similar boats taking part in the Clipper Round the World yacht race.

A long-range HC-130 Hercules aircraft Saturday evening was able to drop medical supplies, but an attempt to lower rescuers was thwarted because of the weather, and the aircraft had to return to shore, said a Coast Guard statement.

The injured Britons are Jane Hitchins, 50, from Kent with suspected broken ribs, and Mark Burkes, 37, from Worcestershire with a back injury.

Max Wilson, 62, from Queensland, Australia has two suspected cracked or broken ribs, according to the race’s website, which also named Nik Brbora a 28-year-old software engineer with possible pelvic sprain.

“The rest of the crew are uninjured but shaken by the incident. All crew next of kin have been informed,” said the race website statement.

The yacht, with 13 people on board according to Coast Guards, is sailing under secondary steering toward San Francisco, but will rendezvous with a container ship that has been diverted to reach them before they get to land.

Race Director Joff Bailey said, “We are naturally concerned at the … incident on ‘Geraldton Western Australia’ and are in close contact with the skipper, U.K. Maritime and Coastguard at Falmouth and the U.S. Coast Guard.”

“The safety of all Clipper Race crew is extremely important to us. Our skippers are highly experienced and several crew members on board have medical training.”

The yacht was on the latest leg of the round-the-world race, sailing from Qingdao, China to San Francisco. The next leg should take race participants to New York, via the Panama Canal, the coast Guard said.

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