A British yacht in danger of breaking up awaits helicopter rescue 02/8/07

A navy warship is racing against time to save a British sailor whose yacht is in danger of breaking up on a reef north of Lord Howe Island off the Australian east coast.

The frigate HMAS Ballarat was sent from Jervis Bay, 570 nautical miles away on the NSW south coast, following a distress call at eight o’clock yesterday morning (BST).

The yacht, which has one British man onboard, has run aground on Elizabeth Reef, 100 nautical miles from Lord Howe Island, and is leaking.

The Ballarat is expected to be close enough by 0700 (BST) for its long-range helicopter to fly to the yacht and winch the man to safety. A catamaran is standing close by and maintaining regular radio contact, two search and rescue aircraft are circling the area, and a merchant vessel has also been diverted to the area as back-up.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority is coordinating the rescue attempt and is confident it will be successful.