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Air Force Orion returns to assist distressed yacht

3:16PM Tuesday Apr 21, 2009

A Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion has been called on for a second time to assist the yacht, Boundless, as it makes its way from Brisbane to Auckland.

The vessel, about 200 nautical miles (370km) north-east of New Zealand yesterday, activated a second distress beacon today and the New Zealand Rescue Co-ordination Centre decided to send the Orion to the boat to ensure the three people on board were safe.

The aircraft will depart from the Air Force Base Whenuapai about 4pm.

The Orion was sent yesterday after a distress beacon was launched from the yacht. The 13-metre sloop was found at 5.50pm.

The two men and a woman on board were found to be well although the yacht experienced some communications problems in addition to some sail damage due to the weather conditions.

A long-range HF radio on board was broken, forcing the Orion to circle above the vessel in order to communicate via short-range VHF radios.

Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) spokesman Lindsay Sturt said yesterday the yacht had been through some rough weather during its journey from Brisbane to Auckland, which had damaged its sail.

Having been forced to use their engines more than expected, the crew feared they were running low on diesel.