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US Coastguard to the rescue after Cllipper Round the World injuries

by Isabel Hokken on 1 Apr 2012
Geraldton Western Australia - Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race. Steve Holland/onEdition
Geraldton Western Australia, one of the ten 68-foot yachts competing in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race, is in the middle of an operation to supply medical assistance after four of its crew members sustained injuries during storm conditions in the Pacific Ocean around 400 miles off the California coast.

Earlier today, a large wave came over the Geraldton Western Australia yacht, which swept away its steering mounting and wheel, some of its communications equipment and injured four crew members. The Clipper Race Office is currently working with UK and US Coast Guard agencies to assist with medical advice and support.

The four crew members have sustained a range of injuries, including suspected cracked or broken ribs and are being treated by medically trained colleagues. The affected crew members are: Nik Brbora a 28-year-old software engineer living in London with a possible pelvic sprain. Jane Hitchins a 50-year-old doctor from Kent with four suspected broken ribs. Max Wilson, 62, from Queensland, Australia with two suspected cracked or broken ribs. Mark Burkes, 37, from Worcestershire UK with a back injury.

The rest of the crew are uninjured but shaken by the incident. All crew next of kin have been informed.

The yacht is proceeding under secondary steering towards Oakland, San Francisco Bay, but will rendezvous with a container ship which has been diverted and is likely to reach them within the next 17 hours.

In the interim the US Coastguard are despatching para-jumpers, who will be on site within six hours, but are having to wait for conditions to improve before it is safe. They will parachute down to the yacht and stabilise the casualties if required until the container ship arrives on the scene.

Race Director Joff 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.

'A deep depression hit the fleet earlier today with winds gusting over 60 knots. First reports described the yacht being caught by a large wave. We will issue more details as soon as we have them.'

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