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Seven rescued after sailboat sinks off Kaena Point

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 11:35 a.m. HST, Aug 13, 2012

The Coast Guard rescued seven people after their yacht sank 29 miles off of Kaena Point early this morning.

The Coast Guard received a mayday call and distress signal from an emergency radio beacon from the 30-foot Cowabunga.

The yacht's captain reported that the sailboat began taking on water at about 12:40 a.m. while sailing to Oahu after a weekend race to Kauai.

The Cowabunga was returning to Oahu after participating in Friday's Kauai Channel Race from Kaneohe Yacht Club to Nawiliwili, said Jesse Andrews, sailing director at the Kaneohe Yacht Club.

All seven people on board the Cowabunga abandoned ship and went into the water with life jackets. All were experienced mariners. No one was injured.

A 45-foot response boat from Oahu, 47-foot motor life boat from Kauai, and the 110-foot cutter Galveston Island responded along with an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and C-130 from Barbers Point.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ship Oscar Elton Sette also diverted to assist. 

The helicopter arrived on scene first, lowered a rescue swimmer with a life raft and lifted four of the mariners into the aircraft at about 1:50 a.m. They were flown to Lihue Airport. The three remaining crewmembers waited in the life raft. The motor life boat arrived on scene at about 3:43 a.m. and took them and the rescue swimmer back to Nawiliwili Harbor.

Three of the crew members traveled to Oahu this morning and four remained on Kauai, where the American Red Cross Hawaii chapter found them hotel rooms, said Jennifer Walter, the Red Cross' manager of response and preparedness.

The Red Cross is working on getting the four remaining crew members to Oahu today, Walter said. 

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