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2 rescued from stricken yacht off Calif. coast

Coast Guard rescues 2 injured British sailors from damaged racing yacht off California coast By The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) ' The U.S. Coast Guard rescued two injured British sailors off the California coast Sunday from a yacht that was hit by a monster wave while participating in an around-the-world race.

A rescue boat reached the battered yacht about 200 miles off the coast and transported the sailors to a Coast Guard cutter. From there, the two boarded a helicopter and were flown to San Francisco for medical treatment, Petty Officer Caleb Critchfield said.

The injured were Jane Hitchens, 50, a doctor from Kent, England, who may have suffered broken ribs, and Nik Brbora, 29, a software engineer from London who may have suffered a pelvic strain, said DeeDee Taft, a spokeswoman for the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race.

Taft said the nearly 70-foot Geraldton Western Australia was hit by a huge wave Saturday when it was about 400 miles from the finish line in San Francisco Bay, knocking out its steering mounting.

"We were making good speed, sailing with the third reef in the main, surfing at 15-20 knots," said Juan Coetzer, skipper of the yacht. "Then ... just before the sun came up, a monstrous foaming swell broke over our stern."

The sea was so rough on Saturday that rescuers couldn't parachute down to the yacht and rescue the injured sailors. The Coast Guard was only able to drop medical supplies until the cutter arrived to assist the crew.

Thirteen people were aboard the yacht. Two others who suffered minor injuries decided to continue sailing, Taft said. The crew was expected to arrive in Oakland's Jack London Square on Monday.

The crew planned to fix the yacht and continue two more legs of the race, which began in Southhampton in England and will finish July 22 after nearly a year at sea.

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