“Person dies after being knocked unconscious by yacht boom during Coastal Classic race”

A person has died after being knocked unconscious on a yacht while racing in the Coastal Classic in the Bay of Islands.

A distress call came through to Coastguard Bay of Islands volunteers who were doing a night time training exercise about 11.30pm on Friday.

Their boat, Kokako Rescue, arrived at the yacht, where a crew member had been struck by the boom, just after 1am with a medical kit and defibrillator but the person died.

Ayden Armitage, Coastguard volunteer onboard Kokako Rescue, said their training coinciding with the Coastal Classic was a strategic decision and significantly reduced their response time.

The other sailors on the yacht were assessed, including two who had moderate injuries.

Kokako Rescue accompanied the yacht back to Opua, arriving shortly before 4am on Saturday.

Armitage said their thoughts were with the whānau of the sailor and their fellow crew members who were on board at the time.

Police said the death had been referred to the Coroner.

The Coastal Classic is a race from Devonport in Auckland to Russell in the Bay of Islands, hosted by the New Zealand Multihull Yacht Club.

It has been held annually at Labour Weekend since its inception in 1982.

Adrian Percival, commodore of the New Zealand Multihull Yacht Club said it was working with Police, Coastguard and Yachting NZ in their enquiries.

“Our thoughts are with the family, friends and we now turn to supporting our family of sailors,” he said.

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