A British man was evacuated from a yacht competing in a round-the-world race today after sustaining a head injury in rough seas off the coast of Taiwan.
Nick Woodward, 55, from Birmingham, was injured when he was thrown across the crew accommodation on the Gold Coast Australia, one of the 10 68ft yachts in the 2011-12 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
Another sailor, Australian Tim Burgess, broke his leg in the gruelling conditions the amateur teams are currently enduring in the race from Singapore to Qingdao, China.
High winds and heavy seas with waves of up to four metres thwarted repeated attempts by a search and rescue helicopter and Taiwanese Coast Guard vessel to transfer the casualties.
Richard Hewson, Gold Coast Australia's skipper, said: "Unfortunately the helicopter could not effect a successful rescue and so a Taiwan Coast Guard vessel was dispatched.
"After attempting to come alongside the Coast Guard vessel I made the decision that the transfer would be too dangerous due to the wind, swell and sea state."
Speaking about Mr Woodward's injuries, Mr Hewson said: "The force with which Nick hit his head on the lockers beside the bunk was enough to crack the plywood.
"There are no obvious signs of further injury however he still has a headache so we are evacuating him as a precautionary measure."
The yacht then transferred the casualties to a launch outside Keelung Port, near Taiwan, where they were transferred by ambulance to hospital.
The Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race started on July 31 in Southampton last year and will return to the city in July 2012 after 40,000 miles of ocean racing.
More than 500 people representing more than 40 nations will compete in Clipper 11-12, with the opportunity to sign up for the whole circumnavigation or one or more of eight legs.
The event was established by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail solo and non-stop around the world, to give everyone the opportunity to experience the exhilaration of ocean racing.
The only qualification for the race is the minimum age of 18, regardless of sailing experience, and there is no upper age limit.