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Injured yacht race crew rescued

Two sailors who were injured when a large wave crashed onto their yacht during a round-the world race have been rescued from their boat, race organisers said.

Three British crew members and one Australian were hurt on board the vessel when it was caught in rough seas about 400 miles off the California coast in the Pacific Ocean.

The yacht, the Geraldton Western Australia, is one of 10 UK-registered 68ft yachts competing in the Clipper Round The World Yacht Race, which takes place once every two years.

Jane Hitchens, 50, from Kent, and 29-year-old Nik Brbora, who lives in London, were transferred by small boat to a US coast guard cutter, the Bertholf, and are being taken on board the cutter to San Francisco.

Ms Hitchens, a doctor, has four suspected broken ribs and is being treated with oxygen, and Mr Brbora, a software engineer, has suspected pelvic strain. Both were said to be "in good spirits".

Two other injured crew members - Max Wilson, 62, a farmer from Queensland, Australia, who also has suspected broken ribs but is in a more stable position, and Mark Burkes, 47, from Worcestershire, who suffered a back injury - were deemed well enough to remain on the yacht until it reaches land within 24 hours.

The four sailors were hurt when a wave hit the boat in storm conditions on Saturday, sweeping away its steering wheel and mount and some of its communications equipment.

The US coastguard had planned to winch the injured people from the yacht but this was later said to be too dangerous and they were transferred to the cutter by boat.

A spokesman for the coastguard said: "Bertholf's commanding officer, in consultation with medical experts ashore, decided the best course of action was to head back to shore with the injured yacht crew."

They are expected to reach San Francisco Bay at about 7am local time (3pm BST), and will be taken by ambulance to San Francisco General Hospital.

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