Yacht crew injured by massive wave during Pacific race

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ALAMEDA, Calif. — The U.S. Coast Guard has dispatched a cutter and helicopter to rescue the crew of a yacht that got caught in stormy seas during a race around the world, the race organizer said Sunday.

The yacht, the Geraldton Western Australia, was hit by a large wave that swept away steering and communications equipment, according to organizers from the Clipper Round the World Race.

The wave also left four crew members with injuries, including possible broken ribs, pelvic sprain and back injury, organizers said. It hit the yacht in stormy weather about 400 miles off the coast of California as the yacht made its way from China to San Francisco.

The USCG Cutter Bertholf was en route and expected to reach yacht Sunday morning and launch a rescue chopper, U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Levi Read said.

The yacht is still in rough conditions, with 9- to 15-foot seas, Read said.

Three of the injured crew are based in Britain and one is Australian, race organizers said.

The race named them as Nik Brbora, 28, a software engineer with a possible pelvic sprain; Jane Hitchins, 50, a doctor with four suspected broken ribs; Mark Burkes, 37, with a back injury; Max Wilson, 62, with two suspected cracked or broken ribs. Wilson is the Australian.

Race organizers said the rest of the crew is “uninjured but shaken by the incident.”

A container ship is changing course to meet the stricken yacht, but the Coast Guard will get there first to help stabilize the injured, organizers said.

The 11-month race pits 10 68-foot yachts crewed by amateurs against each other on a 40,000-mile journey around the world. It began in August.

Credit: CNN. CNN’s Alicia Eakin contributed to this report.