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Platino rescue - Top boatbuilder named as dead crew member

by on 13 Jun 2016
An RNZAF P-3K2 Orion aircraft has come to the aid of a distressed yacht Platino 750km from New Zealamd, June 13, 2016 New Zealand Defence Force
Maritime New Zealand has advised in an online update at 0840hrs on Tuesday that a container ship is re-routing to assist three people aboard the battered yacht, Platino, 550 kilometres north of New Zealand.

There were five people on board the 20m Ron Holland designed yacht Platino - including owners Tory and Brent McKeogh, and Ross McKee.

A crewman was lost overboard from the 20 metre yacht and another died when hit by rigging yesterday morning.

The crew member killed has been named as Nick Saull, head of a prominent northern Auckland boatbuilding firm Brin Wilson Boatbuilders. The other crew member has not yet been publicly named.

The missing crewmember is believed to not be wearing a lifejacket, and it has not been reported by the authorities whether any rescue gear was deployed for him at the time of the incident.

Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand watch leader David Wilson told Radio NZ on Tuesday morning that the yachts boom had initially broken loose, and the wildly swinging boom had struck the backstays, bringing the rig down.

Photos released by the NZ Defence Force show the yacht with her mast intact, boom partially intact, and self furling jib in a partially stowed state.

Owner Brent McKeogh's father Peter McKeogh told Radio New Zealand: 'Everybody is pretty worried about them. We can't do a lot until they get a bit of help to get the rigging cut adrift.'

He said the mast was down and dragging in the water, pounding the hull badly. 'If that doesn't cause any damage, they should be all right. But should it punch a hole in the boat, they'll probably have to abandon ship.'

An RNZAF P3 Orion is already out searching again this morning for the man, aged in his 60s, who was swept overboard when he was likely hit by the boom in high winds, which later caused the rigging on the 20-metre yacht to collapse before midday yesterday. The body of the man who died is still on-board – as his fellow crew continue to try to secure the rigging and the mast that was drifting alongside the yacht.

Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand watch leader David Wilson says the Airforce Orion headed out at first light, with the search area about 223 square nautical miles - calculated from drift predictions.

“The next few hours are vital in this rescue effort – both in attempting to recover the man lost overboard, and to ensure the safety of those left on-board. Once the container ship Southern Lily is alongside its crew will help to clear the rigging.

“There is plenty of diesel onboard the yacht, and once the rigging has been cleared the remaining Platino crew may be able to motor the vessel back to New Zealand. The sea is currently four-five metres with conditions forecast to improve later today,” Mr Wilson said.

For an update from Radio NZ, Tuesday morning click here

The website is reporting that the man who died onboard a yacht north of New Zealand was Nick Saull, the head of an Auckland boat building company, Brin Wilson Boatbuilders, located at Gulf Harbour about 40 minutes north of Auckland.

Another RCCNZ spokesman Steve Rendle told new sources earlier that he understood Saull was struck by falling rigging in 4m-high seas while the other man was knocked overboard.

'The boom I think has been battered around by the conditions, which are strong winds and high seas. I can only assume that the damage caused to the boom has resulted in that man being fatally injured.

'It's a challenging situation, but we are working on the basis this is a search.'

He said the yacht was experiencing 4m swells winds in the area are 20-25kts from the SSE.

'The three [other] people on board hunkered down below decks and they're motoring towards New Zealand, so not very pleasant conditions at all.'

Nick Saull's body has remained onboard the yacht.

Peter McKeogh said the couple and a third crew member were not yet safe from the mountainous seas.

He said his son Brent, 55, and daughter-in-law Victoria, who live in Bayswater, on Auckland's North Shore, have 'a lot of miles' sailing experience.

'Well [they're] not safe yet, but if they get through the night they'll get picked up, there's not a hell of a lot you can do about it, you've just got to leave them to it.'

Mr McKee's wife told Radio NZ News it had been a difficult and anxious time for the family, and she only found out her husband and the McKeoghs were safe about 7.30pm.

She said the wind had dropped markedly but the waves were still quite high.

The yacht had been due to take part in this month's Auckland to Denarau, Fiji, yacht race, but had pulled out before the June 1 start because of refit delays and the couples' business commitments, McKeogh said.

Rendle said on Tuesday morning the yacht was 'motoring slowly' back toward New Zealand, awaiting rescue.

It had lost most of its rigging, he said, and so was unable to make much progress.

He said a cargo vessel, Southern Lily, was nearby and was due to reach the yacht at about midday.

RNZAF Acting Air Component Commander Group Captain Tim Walshe said the Orion crew found the boat around 12.30pm Monday in 'extremely dangerous' seas.

'Strong winds and heavy swells had hit the yacht and smashed its boom. Fortunately, our Orion was already in the area so that greatly reduced the response time.'

The Orion was on the scene within 90 minutes of the incident and called in the three vessels.

For the full report on click here
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