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Bid to assist hurt sailors delayed

An operation to help four sailors who were injured when a large wave crashed on to their yacht during a round-the-world race has been delayed.

Three British crew members and one Australian were hurt on board the vessel which is currently 400 miles off the California coast in the Pacific Ocean.

They suffered a range of injuries - including suspected broken ribs - 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 boat, 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.

Race organisers Clipper Ventures said the injured crew include Jane Hitchens, a 50-year-old doctor from Kent, who has four suspected broken ribs, and Mark Burkes, 37, from Worcestershire, who has suffered a back injury.

The others were named as Nik Brbora, a 28-year-old software engineer living in London, who has possible pelvic sprain, and 62-year-old Max Wilson, from Queensland, Australia, who has two suspected cracked or broken ribs.

An attempt was made to parachute medical help to the sailors but it was abandoned after poor weather conditions meant paramedics were unable to jump out of the aircraft.

A helicopter will now be sent to help. It will launch from a coast guard ship to deliver medical supplies. Subject to their medical condition, the injured crew will be taken off the yacht.

Explaining the revised plan, US coast guard spokesman Levi Read said: "They will then lower an emergency medical technician from the helicopter on to the boat. He will assess the injuries, treat them and if necessary evacuate the injured people and take them aboard the helicopter to the nearest medical resource."

The yacht is heading towards Oakland, San Francisco Bay, under secondary steering and is expected to reach land within two or three days.


From Belfast Telegraph