Maritime New Zealand have confirmed that the J/111 Django (Andrew Reid) was abandoned off the coast of the North Island of New Zealand late this afternoon and the crew taken aboard a Navy patrol vessel.
J/111 - Django racing in the 2013 Auckland Cup, Day 3
The yacht, crewed by two men and a woman, was returning from the ANZ Fiji Race, when she experienced strong easterly winds about 170nm off the coast of the North Island. She issued a MayDay call which was picked up by Maritime NZ
HMNZS Otago approaches Django
According to Predictwind.com the winds at Cape Reinga, the northernmost point of New Zealand were gusting to 85kts and averaging over 60kts at the peak of the storm around noon on Tuesday, local time.
Winds in the area in which the yacht was abandoned were reported at 50kts with seas in excess of 5metres.
The initial problem aboard the 36ft racing yacht occurred when the rudder stock snapped leaving the rudder to swing free. The J/111 is one of the most popular keelboat racing designs in the world.
Rescue Co-ordination Centre NZ tasked two vessels in the area, the log carrier Laura Bulker which was en route from Tauranga to China and 60NM from the stricken yacht, and the Royal New Zealand Navy patrol vessel HMNZS Otago, which was 90NM away.
The Otago arrived alongside Django at about 5.30pm, with the Laura Bulker on scene shortly after and standing by while the naval vessel effected the rescue.
HMNZS Otago prepares to launch a swimmer to cross to the Django as daylight fades fast
The Django’s crew abandoned ship into a liferaft, but as it was being hauled across to the Otago, RCCNZ reports they feared the larger vessel was about to roll over and crush them in the heavy seas, and they cut the rope. The Otago then sent a swimmer into the water with another rope, to tie the liferaft on again and bring it alongside.
The crew are now safely on board the Otago, which is en route to Devonport in Auckland and expected to arrive around 9am Wednesday.
The yacht and liferaft were still afloat when the vessels departed the area, and a navigation warning has been issued to advise mariners of its position.
Click here for an interview by Radio New Zealand with the Commander of HMNZS Otago on the rescue
Click here for an interview with the Rescue Centre Co-Ordinator on the rescue by the RNZ Navy
Django sailing fast in the 2014 ANZ Fiji Race