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4 June 2012 - 10.30pm
The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) is currently coordinating the rescue of 18 people on board a yacht around 100 nautical miles east of Norfolk Island.
The 24 metre yacht, Beau Geste, is participating in the Auckland to Noumea yacht race.
The skipper of the yacht contacted RCCNZ at 7pm and advised the yacht had suffered damage to its decking and hull and was continuing to deteriorate.
RCCNZ issued a request for assistance from nearby vessels and the cargo ship Winchester Strait has responded and is making its way to the stricken yacht – the captain of the ship estimates they are approximately six hours away.
RCCNZ search and rescue mission coordinator John Dickson said Beau Geste had an experienced crew of racers and that remaining on board the damaged yacht while help arrived was the best course of action at this point.
Mr Dickson said RCCNZ had good communications with the yacht, through its satellite phone.
The yacht is equipped with two ten-man life rafts, in the event the crew needs to abandon ship.
A Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion is also on standby to assist if needed.
No other details are currently available – an update will be provided at 6am.