The death and injuries on Bille, which also lost its mast, were reported yesterday, a day after the competition started in Cape Town, race Chairman Ray Matthews said in a statement on the event’s website. The boats sailed into rough seas about 75 nautical miles (86 miles) from the start, South Africa’s National Sea Rescue Institute said in a separate e-mailed statement today.
“Various other yachts suffered damage in what is reported as conditions of up to eight-meter (26-foot) swells and up to 60-knot gale-force winds,” the NSRI said. “Some yachts are limping back” to Cape Town or Saldanha Bay, it said.
Six other competitors reported problems including broken rudders, flooded engines and communication breakdowns, Matthews said.
Bille’s skipper was diagnosed with broken ribs today while another crew member suffered cuts, with both being attended to by a doctor, Matthews said in a separate statement today. The South African Navy dispatched one of its naval frigates, Isandlwana, last night to assist the yacht.
Helicopter and vessel rescue units, together with the South African Air Force’s 22 Squadron, were placed on high alert to assist with emergencies, the NSRI said.
The NSRI dispatched a rescue craft this morning to tow the Black Cat yacht, with four people on board, back to Cape Town, the NSRI said.
A further five vessels are on their way back to the shore while a sixth has already arrived at the harbor.
Most participants continued to experience poor visibility, Matthews said.
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