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Racing Yacht Damaged in Pacific Storm Safely Reaches Shore

Yacht competing in around-the-world race when it hit rough waters on Sunday.

A yacht that was crippled by a Pacific storm while racing in the ocean over the weekend passed safely beneath the Golden Gate Bridge early Tuesday morning, and all crewmembers have reached shore, a race spokeswoman said.

The Geraldton Western Australia, a 68-foot yacht competing in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race, sailed into the San Francisco Bay at about 3:30 a.m. using partial motor power and an emergency steering system, spokeswoman DeeDee Taft said. The 11 crewmembers still on board were "ecstatic" to pass under the bridge and reach the end of the sixth leg of the eight-leg race, and were glad to reach land, Taft said.

"Needless to say, they were happy to get off that boat," Taft said.

The yacht and its crew were met by more than 50 fellow sailors and well-wishers who stayed up to welcome the damaged vessel to port at Jack London Square in Oakland.

The Geraldton will undergo repairs before the start of the next leg of the race on April 14, Taft said.

Two injured crewmembers -- Jane Hitchins, 50, and Nik Brbora, 29 -- arrived in Oakland on Monday afternoon after being at sea from the Geraldton to the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bertholf on Sunday. Both were taken to Highland Hospital, Taft said. It has not been decided if they will return to work on the Geraldton when it departs in 10 days.

The Geraldton was on Saturday when it was pummeled by a large wave in a storm about 400 miles off the California coast. The wave swept away the ship's steering wheel and mounting along with some of its communications equipment, according to race officials.

The Geraldton, one of 10 yachts competing in the 40,000-mile race, is currently in 10th place. All 10 yachts will be on public display as part of the Strictly Sail Pacific boat show, which will be held at Jack London Square from April 12 to April 15.

— Bay City News

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