A U.S. Coast Guard crew from San Francisco rescued a man whose rowboat capsized about 50 miles off of California's Central Coast early Sunday morning while taking part in a race across the Pacific.
The solo rower contacted the Coast Guard around 2 a.m. after capsizing several times in the unexpectedly rough seas and high winds, according to Coast Guard officials.
A helicopter crew took off from Air Station San Francisco, keeping in contact with the rower along the way.
The crew located the man about 52 miles west of Morro Bay around 6:10 a.m. and a rescue swimmer was lowered into the water, Coast Guard officials said.
After finding the rower in stable condition, he was lifted into the helicopter and flown to emergency medical crews waiting at the Monterey Regional Airport.
He is recovering and is expected to survive.
The man had been participating in the Great Pacific Race, a 2,400-mile rowing competition from Monterey to Hawaii that is described on its website as the "biggest, baddest human endurance challenge on the planet."
Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Blake McKinney said the rower's preparation and equipment, including a satellite phone and other appropriate gear, "increased his chance for survival and enabled him to call the Coast Guard for help."
The early-morning rescue was the Coast Guard's second rescue of boaters in distress participating in the race in the waters off of the California coast.
Early Saturday morning, a Coast Guard helicopter crew from San Francisco rescued four rowers competing in the race when their rowboat started taking on water in rough seas about 75 miles west of San Luis Obispo.
All four rowers were said to be in good condition.
Coast Guard officials are working with race organizers to monitor the rowers' progress as the event continues and to help ensure the rest of the competition is as safe as possible.
Bay City News