Ship limping to San Francisco after two rescued 

ALAMEDA — Forty-eight hours after a rogue wave hit their boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, two injured sailors competing in an around-the-world race are back on dry land.

The Coast Guard successfully rescued two of four crew members injured Saturday roughly 400 nautical miles off the coast of San Francisco. The other two remain on the 68-foot yacht that is making its way back to shore. Eleven total crew members are onboard.

Nik Brbora, 29, and Dr. Jane Hitchins, 50, both of England, were brought to shore Monday afternoon. Neither answered questions from reporters, and the extent of their injuries was unclear — Brbora is suspected of having a pelvic strain and Hitchins may have broken ribs, race officials said.

The wave, which was estimated to be up to 30 feet high, slammed into the Geraldton Western Australia on Saturday afternoon, throwing crew members around the deck and disabling the vessel’s steering system.

The Geraldton was roughly 200 nautical miles off the coast by the time the Coast Guard reached it. On Saturday, rough seas prevented the rescue; the Coast Guard was able to deliver medical supplies, though.

The Geraldton was one of 10 yachts competing in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race, which started in Britain in July 2011. It will conclude in South Hampton, England, this July, five days before the Olympics begin in London.

The boat was sailing from China to San Francisco when the wave struck it.

Race spokesman Jonathan Levy said the Pacific crossing is often the most treacherous.

Mark Burkes, 47, of Worcestershire, England, and Max Wilson, 62, of Queensland, Australia, also were injured, but were able to remain with the yacht as it makes its way to San Francisco Bay.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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