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

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
football
News
Hillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test