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Platino crew safe on container ship

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 13/06/2016

Rescuers have succeeded in getting the crew of the stricken yacht Platino onto another boat as the vessel takes on water amid high seas.

The 20-metre yacht has been stranded since suffering serious rigging damage in winds of up to 75km per hour while sailing 550km north of New Zealand on Monday morning.

Crewman Nick Saull was killed in what is believed to be a rigging accident, while another man, 63, was blown overboard and is still missing.

Container ship Southern Lily intercepted the Platino at about midday on Tuesday, but because of the size difference between the vessels and 2.5m swells, the transfer of crew off the yacht had proved "tricky", Maritime New Zealand said.

However all three crew members were safely on board by 3pm and the container ship is due back in Auckland in two days.

The body of Mr Saull is still on board the Platino as it could not be safely transferred to the Southern Lily.

A locator beacon has been activated on the yacht.

Rescue mission co-ordinator John Dickson said it was disappointing not to have transferred Mr Saull's body, but safety had to come first.

An RNZAF Orion has returned to search a 220sq km area for the missing man until nightfall, when it must return to New Zealand.

Although it was earlier believed the Platino could be brought home, it had lost power and steering and was taking on water, and had been abandoned.

The Platino's crew spent an uncomfortable night onboard but had been in contact with family using a satellite phone.

Friends and family have been posting tributes to Mr Saull, a director of Auckland-based Brin Wilson Boat Builders, with former Silverdale United Rugby Club teammate Dixon McIver describing him as "a true gentlemen, friend, father and husband".

The Platino keelboat is registered to co-owners Harry and Tory McKeogh in Auckland.

All on board the yacht were New Zealanders.

The vessel had been entered in a yacht race from Auckland to Denaru in Fiji earlier this month but did not start.

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