Hospitalised Clipper Race crew member has broken ribs and vertebra plus ruptured spleen

There were triumphant scenes in Oakland, California last night, when the Geraldton Western Australia entry made it to the marina, after 30 long days at sea. One of its evacuated crew, who was injured when the boat was hit by a 100 foot large wave in heavy seas on Saturday, has been diagnosed with numerous cracked ribs and vertebra, as well as a ruptured spleen.

Jane Hitchins, a 50-year-old doctor from Kent, UK, was injured when a 100 foot wave hit the Geraldton Western Australia yacht in its Pacific Ocean crossing from Qingdao, China to San Francisco Bay.

After being taken of the US Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf in Alameda yesterday, Jane has now been examined by doctors. She has suffered numerous cracked ribs and vertebra in her lower back, and a ruptured spleen. None of these injuries are considered to be life threatening.

Despite the extensive injuries, Jane is in very good spirits and is expected to make a full recovery.

Crew member Nik Brobora, a 29-year-old software engineer from London, UK, who was medevaced with Jane was discharged last night. While tender with a pelvic strain there are no other causes for concern.

Upon crossing the finish line by the Golden Gate Bridge, Juan Coetzer, skipper of the Geraldton Western Australia entry said, “It’s been a very long trip, so I am really delighted to be here. Everyone that has helped us during the incident over the past days have been so friendly and helpful.

“I’m very relieved that Nik has been discharged and that Jane is in excellent hands at the hospital and in good spirits. All the crew have been true seamen during this incident and have worked together very well to get our boat to the finish line at the Golden Gate Bridge. I am very proud of their achievement.

“After a great welcome last night, today we’ve started the work to get the Geraldton Western Australia boat in order, ready for race re-start from San Franscisco Bay on 14 April.”

Geraldton Western Australia has been awarded tenth place in Race 9 of the world’s longest yacht race, with the first nine having arrived over the past three days. Crew member Max Wilson, 62, a farmer from Queensland, Australia, is today getting his suspected broken ribs checked at hospital.

Mark Burkes, 47, from Worcestershire, UK, who was on the helm at the time of the incident, still has a sore back, but has been taken off the casualty list.

The entire ten-strong Clipper Round the World Yacht Race fleet is now in Jack London Square, Oakland, San Francisco Bay.

During the stopover in Oakland, San Francisco Bay a diverse programme awaits the crew and skippers of the ten-strong fleet, including being part of the Strictly Sail Pacific boat show hosted in Jack London Square. Sponsors will also be using the Clipper Race as a platform for promotion, to do business and build relationships with Californian businesses.