Bertholf Rescues Racers Struck by Rogue Wave

AFD plays role in dramatic rescue


Coast Guard photo by Jordan Akiyama

Members of the Alameda Fire Department transport Jane Hitchins to an ambulance waiting off the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf. Hitchins was one of two sailors rescued April 1, after more than two days of intense search-and-rescue operations.


Photo courtesy USCGC Bertholf

Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf's cutter boat crew works to recover two injured crewmembers from the damaged racing yacht Geraldton.

The 68-foot yacht Geraldton Western Australia foundered in the Pacific Ocean some 250 miles off the California Coast after a rogue wave injured two sailors aboard and damaged the vessel's steering system and its communications equipment.

The United States Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf, the Air National Guard's 129th Rescue Wing and a vessel from the Automated Mutual- Assistance Vessel Rescue (AMVER) all took part in rescuing the vessel's two injured sailors.

The Bertholf made an 800-mile round trip on this rescue mission, the Coast Guard said. The Geraldton was competing in the China to San Francisco leg of the 40,000-mile Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race when the rogue wave struck.

The Coast Guard identified the injured aboard the Geraldton as Jane Hitchens, 50, a doctor from Kent, England, and Nik Brbora, 29, a software engineer from London. The Coast Guard said that Hitchens was suffering from broken ribs, and Brbora might have strained his pelvis.

The Geraldton's remaining crewmembers got the boat safely to San Francisco Bay. The 11 sailors reached Jack London Square at around 3 a.m., Tuesday, the last of 10 boats to complete a 5,680-mile voyage across the Pacific.

Alameda firefighters played a role in the drama. Members of the Alameda Fire Department in their role as paramedics met the Bertholf on Coast Guard Island and transported Hitchins and Brbora to a local hospital.

It remains unclear whether the Geraldton will sail on the next leg of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race, which will start on Saturday, April 14, and head for New York by way of Panama.

Contact Dennis Evanosky at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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