Coast Guard searching for yacht caught in stormy seas

March 31, 2012 8:23:27 PM PDT
The U.S. Coast Guard is searching today for a yacht that got caught in stormy seas during a race from China to San Francisco, injuring several people on board.

The Geraldton Western Australia, a 68-foot yacht competing in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race, was struck by a large wave this morning that swept away its steering mounting and wheel and some of its communications equipment, according to race officials.

Four of the 13 crew members, all British or Australian, suffered a range of injuries, including suspected cracked or broken ribs and possible pelvic and back injuries.

The U.S. Coast Guard is sending out a C-130 aircraft from Fairfield manned by National Guard parajumpers to search for the boat, which is around 400 miles west of San Francisco, said Petty Officer Levi Read.

When the boat is located the parajumpers will jump and join the boat to conduct a medical evaluation of the injured.

The boat, meanwhile, is continuing to make way toward the Bay Area. Once it is in range of Coast Guard helicopters, somewhere within the next 48 hours, anyone who needs it will be medically evacuated, Read said.

Rescuers face challenging conditions in the form of 9 to 15 foot seas and 20 to 30 mph winds.

"The weather is subsiding, but right now it's pretty rough," Read said.

Race officials said that as of about 5:45 p.m., about four of the participating 10 yachts have finished the sixth leg of the around-the-world race, from China to the U.S., and have docked at Jack London Square in Oakland. The boats are scheduled to depart on the next leg on April 14.

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