Coast Guard rescues 2 injured sailors from yacht off Calif. coast

Seaman David Flores/US Coast Guard via Reuters
Coast Guard personnel dropped medical supplies to a stricken sailing yacht off California with three injured sailors on board.

SAN FRANCISCO - The US Coast Guard rescued two injured sailors from a yacht that was hit by a monster wave while participating in an around-the-world race.

Petty Officer Caleb Critchfield said a Coast Guard rescue boat reached the battered yacht about 200 miles off the California coast on Sunday afternoon.

The sailors were then transported to a Coast Guard cutter where they boarded a helicopter and were flown to San Francisco for medical treatment.

The injured include a 50-year-old woman who may have suffered broken ribs and a 29-year-old man with a possible pelvic strain.

A spokeswoman for the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race said the nearly 70-foot Geraldton Western Australia was hit by a large wave Saturday, knocking out its steering mounting.

“We were racing along in 40- to 60-knot gusts,’’ said Juan Coetzer, skipper of the yacht. “The sea was alive with rage. We were making good speed, sailing with the third reef in the main, surfing at 15 to 20 knots. Then at our watch change, just before the sun came up, a monstrous foaming swell broke over our stern.’’

Two others suffered minor injuries and will continue sailing to San Francisco Bay.

The injured crewmembers included Jane Hitchens, 50, a doctor from Kent, United Kingdom; Nik Brbora, 29, a software engineer from London; and Max Wilson, 62, a farmer from Queensland, Australia, race officials said.

A long-range Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules search-and-rescue aircraft based in Sacramento had flown to the scene and dropped medical supplies.

Earlier plans to drop a parajumper rescue team near the yacht were called off because of poor weather.