Crewman Dies as Storm Dismasts Yacht in Cape to Rio Race

Source: Hoberman Collection/UIG via Getty Images

The Cape to Rio Yacht Race first took place in 1971. Close

The Cape to Rio Yacht Race first took place in 1971.

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Source: Hoberman Collection/UIG via Getty Images

The Cape to Rio Yacht Race first took place in 1971.

A crewman on a yacht taking part in the Cape to Rio race died and others were injured as gales damaged at least seven boats in the competition from South Africa to Brazil.

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.

This year’s event, with 36 vessels from eight countries taking part, is the 14th edition of the race, which first took place in 1971. The competition ends in Rio de Janeiro.

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.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andre Janse van Vuuren in Johannesburg at ajansevanvuu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Viljoen at jviljoen@bloomberg.net

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