Two sailors competing in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race had to be medevaced via RIB to a Coast Guard cutter Monday after being seriously injured when a wave that race officials estimate at 100 feet slammed the stern of their yacht last Saturday.
One other crewmember was injured when the wave hit Geraldton Western Australia 400 miles west of San Francisco, taking out the steering as well.
British physician Jane Hitchens, 50, suffered cracked ribs and cracked vertebrae in her lower back, and a ruptured spleen. Nik Brbora, a 29-year-old software engineer from England, was medevaced with Hitchens by the Coast Guard with an injured pelvis.
Click play for Coast Guard video of the rescue.
The cutter reached Oakland, Calif., Tuesday, and the sailors were transferred to Highland General Hospital.
Crewmember Max Wilson, a 62-year-old farmer from Australia, was suspected of having broken ribs but stayed aboard Geraldton Western Australia, which also reached Oakland Tuesday — under secondary steering — the last of the 10 yachts competing to make port. Oakland is the midpoint of the race, which concludes in England in July.
"Every once in a while that wave will come out of nowhere. It's got your name on it, and it's going to slam you," assistant race director Justin Taylor, a two-time skipper in the contest, told the press. "And that's exactly what happened."
The legendary British bluewater sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnston created the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race to give amateur sailors an adventure at sea.
Every two years, a fleet of identical 70-foot racing yachts leave Southampton, England, on a 40,000-mile, multileg race around the globe. Trained skippers are on board, but the crews mainly comprise people from all walks of life, with or without previous sailing experience.