U.S. Coast Guard crews were waiting for the weather to improve before sending a helicopter to take three British and Australian crew members injured in a storm from a yacht about 400 miles (640 kilometers) off the California coast, a Coast Guard spokesman said.
The Coast Guard cutter Bertholf with a helicopter on board was within range of the yacht, but could not send a rescue crew to the stricken vessel because of the weather conditions, Coast Guard Petty Officer Caleb Critchfield said.
Critchfield could not provide an estimate for when the helicopter would be able to launch.
A spokeswoman for the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race said the nearly 70-foot (21-meter) Geraldton Western Australia was hit by a large wave Saturday, knocking out its steering mounting.
Three crew members suffered back, rib and pelvic injuries.
“We were racing along in 40-60 knot (74-110 kph) gusts. The sea was alive with rage. We were making good speed, sailing with the third reef in the main, surfing at 15-20 knots (28-37 kph). Then at our watch change, just before the sun came up, a monstrous foaming swell broke over our stern,” said Juan Coetzer, skipper of the yacht.
The injured crewmembers were Jane Hitchens, 50, a doctor from Kent, U.K., Nik Brbora, 29, a software engineer from London, and Max Wilson, 62, a farmer from Queensland, Australia, race officials said.
A long-range Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules search and rescue aircraft based in Sacramento has flown to the scene and dropped medical supplies, but earlier plans to drop a parajumper rescue team were called off because of the weather.
The yacht was proceeding under secondary steering toward San Francisco Bay.