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Two rescued from stricken yacht off California coast

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April 2, 2012, 8:32 a.m. | World — by Associated Press

Air National Guard parajumpers, from the 129th Rescue Wing prepare medical supplies to be dropped from a Coast Guard aircraft to a 67-foot sailing yacht with three injured persons aboard, the Clipper Venture Six which is sponsored by Geraldton Western Australia, in the Round the World Yacht Race, on March 31.
© AP

SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Coast Guard rescued two injured British sailors off the California coast on April 1 from a yacht that was hit by a monster wave while participating in an around-the-world race. A rescue boat reached the battered yacht about 200 miles (320 kilometers) off the coast and transported the sailors to a Coast Guard cutter, Petty Officer Caleb Critchfield said.

The two were being treated aboard the cutter and will receive additional medical aid when the vessel reaches San Francisco Bay, said DeeDee Taft, a spokeswoman for the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race.

The injured were Jane Hitchens, 50, a doctor from Kent, England, who may have suffered broken ribs, and Nik Brbora, 29, a software engineer from London who may have suffered a pelvic strain, Taft said.

The nearly 70-foot (21-meter) Geraldton Western Australia was hit by a huge wave Saturday when it was about 400 miles (643 kilometers) from a finish line in San Francisco Bay, knocking out its steering mounting.

"We were making good speed, sailing with the third reef in the main, surfing at 15 to 20 knots," said Juan Coetzer, skipper of the yacht. "Then ... just before the sun came up, a monstrous foaming swell broke over our stern."

The sea was so rough on Saturday that rescuers couldn't parachute down to the yacht and rescue the injured sailors. The Coast Guard was only able to drop medical supplies until the cutter arrived to assist the crew.

Thirteen people were aboard the yacht. Two others who suffered minor injuries decided to continue sailing, Taft said. The crew was expected to arrive in Oakland's Jack London Square on Monday.

The crew planned to fix the yacht and continue two more legs of the race, which began in Southhampton in England and will finish there July 22 after nearly a year at sea. The Geraldton Western Australia is among 10 yachts participating in the race.
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