Injured round-the-world yacht crew airlifted to safety

 

Two sailors who were injured when a large wave crashed onto their yacht during a round-the-world race were being airlifted to land today, race organisers said.

Three British crew members and one Australian were hurt on board the vessel when it was caught in rough seas about 400 miles off the California coast in the Pacific Ocean.

The boat, the Geraldton Western Australia, is one of 10 UK-registered 68ft yachts competing in the Clipper Round The World Yacht Race, which takes place once every two years.

Jane Hitchens, 50, from Kent, and 29-year-old Nik Brbora, who lives in London, were transferred by small boat to US coast guard cutter, the Bertholf, and then taken to San Francisco by helicopter.

Ms Hitchens, a doctor, has four suspected broken ribs, and Mr Brbora, a software engineer, has suspected pelvic strain.

Both were said to be “in good spirits”.

Two other injured crew members - Max Wilson, 62, a farmer from Queensland, Australia, who also has suspected broken ribs, and Mark Burkes, 47, from Worcestershire, who suffered a back injury - were deemed well enough to remain on the yacht until it reaches land in about 24 hours' time.

The four sailors were hurt when a wave hit the boat in storm conditions on Saturday, sweeping away its steering wheel and mount and some of its communications equipment.

The US coast guard had planned to winch the injured people from the yacht but this was later said to be too dangerous.

Jonathan Levy, of race organisers Clipper Ventures, said: “They were transferred by small boat instead because there was too much movement on the yacht to allow them to be winched. The 100ft mast moves around quite a lot.

“They're now on a helicopter and en route to San Francisco.”

Earlier a C-130 aircraft dropped additional medical supplies to the yacht, including oxygen for one of the crew.

An initial attempt was made at around 2am (6pm local time) yesterday to parachute medical help to the sailors but it was abandoned after poor weather conditions meant paramedics were unable to jump out of the aircraft.

Waves near the yacht are reported to be between about 20ft.

The yacht is heading towards Oakland, San Francisco Bay, under secondary steering and is within 250 miles from port.

Yesterday, race director Jonathan Bailey said: “We are naturally concerned at the recent incident on Geraldton Western Australia and are in close contact with the skipper, UK Maritime and Coastguard at Falmouth and the US 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 rest of the 18-strong crew on the boat are said to be uninjured but shaken.

The 40,000-mile race, which features predominantly amateur crews, started in Southampton in July last year and is due to return to the city in July this year.

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Voices
voices
Sport
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
News
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Technical Manager – Heat Pumps

£40000 Per Annum dependent on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: They ...

Test Job

TBC: Test Recruiter for iJobs: Job London (Greater)

Senior Developer - HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, VBA, SQL

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: We are working with one o...

Senior Developer - HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, VBA, SQL

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: We are working with one o...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis