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Associated Press
Air National Guard parajumpers prepare medical supplies to be dropped to the sailing yacht.

Battered yacht limps to California

– A battered yacht and its bruised crew limped into port Monday after a giant wave smashed over the stern with such force that it carried away the boat’s steering wheel and knocked the crew about like bowling pins.

A Coast Guard cutter reached the Geraldton Western Australia, which was damaged about 400 miles off the San Francisco coast Sunday, and removed two injured crew members while the rest of the sailors decided to press on to finish the longest leg of an around-the-world race.

The 68-foot yacht was expected to dock in the wee hours this morning and become the last of 10 boats to complete a 5,680-mile trek across the Pacific.

“The sea was alive with rage,” the boat’s captain Juan Coetzer told race organizers, who posted his comments online.

“Then at our watch change, just before the sun came up (Saturday), a monstrous foaming swell broke over our stern.”

Assistant race director Justin Taylor, a two-time skipper in the contest, said that crews “drill” for such an event as losing a steering wheel in heavy seas and that the repair took a matter of minutes.

“Their training kicked in,” Taylor said.

Taylor said typically the hardest leg of the race is crossing the North Atlantic.