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Stricken yacht reaches Norfolk Island

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 11:56 05/06/2012
EXPERIENCED CREW: The Beau Geste at the start of the Auckland to Noumea yacht race on Saturday.
WILL CALVER/Boating NZ
EXPERIENCED CREW: The Beau Geste at the start of the Auckland to Noumea yacht race on Saturday.

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Damaged maxi yacht Beau Geste has reached Norfolk Island safely and everybody is well and accounted for, Australian Federal Police (AFP) say.

The yacht had issued a distress call yesterday and struggled to reach the Australian island in worsening conditions.

An AFP officer in Norfolk told Stuff a short time ago that the yacht was anchored and was now safe.

Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) search and rescue mission coordinator Neville Blakemore said Beau Geste is now anchored off Kingston Jetty, where its damage will be assessed.

"It would have been a long night for the crew, in difficult conditions, but the boat has made safe anchorage under its own power,'' Mr Blakemore said.

''A support vessel was on hand throughout the night in case the crew had had to abandon ship.''

The yacht was taking part in the Auckland to Noumea Yacht race which started 2pm Saturday.

The Hong Kong flagged Beau Geste issued a distress call last night after its hull and decking began deteriorating quickly. A relatively new yacht, launched in 2009, Beau Geste is a purpose built racer.

The fishing vessel Advance 2 sailed with the Beau Geste and bulk carrier Katherine made its way towards the yacht to provide some shelter from the wind and sea conditions on its approach to shore.

The crew of New Zealanders, Australians, Chinese, and one American were all safe and well.

Beau Geste is owned by Hong Kong business man Karl Kwok and skippered by former America's Cup helmsman Gavin Brady.

Brady has four America's Cup challenges to his credit along with two Round the World Races.

Beau Geste was designed by Farr Yacht Design and built by Cookson boats in 2009.

It has campaigned in over 92,600 kilometres of yacht racing and is China's most successful sailing team. It took line honours in the Los Angeles to Tahiti yacht race earlier this year.

Its current crew under owner skipper Karl Kwok is listed as Margaret Chan, Bill Low, Gavin Brady, Cameron Ward, David Blanchfield, David Wood, Morgan White, Rodney Daniel, Rodney Keenan, Jim Delegat, Matt Randall, Aaron Reynolds-Lovegrove, Carla Holgate, Keven Batten, Nikolas White, Richard Bearda and Kayne Mulcahy.

Meanwhile Auckland trimaran Team Vodafone is set to take line honours in the race tonight. The race started on Saturday at 2pm.

An 8am message on Facebook from the boat says they have 212 kilometres to reach Noumea.

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"A rough night has slowed Team Vodafone up," the tweet says.

An earlier one, issued at around the time Beau Geste was calling for help, said all aboard Vodafone were well but added "very bumpy with 30+kts of wind….

"Nobody is hanging about in the downstairs lounge of the freight train!

"There are a few green faces.

"The boys feel gutted for Beau Geste and hope they make Norfolk safely."

Auckland yacht Akatea, a Cookson 50, is leading on overall race honours.

- Stuff

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