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Stranded solo yachtsman talked off yacht

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/04/2017

A Polish round-the-world solo yachtsman stranded in the south Pacific Ocean had to be convinced to leave his vessel, Maritime New Zealand says.

Rescuers had to go as far as to fly a Polish speaker four hours in a Defence Force plane to talk him off the yacht.

Sixty-four-year-old Gregor Wegrzyn set off an emergency beacon 2700 metres east of Christchurch when his yacht Regina R suffered a steering failure on Thursday and a New Zealand Air Force Orion found him on Friday.

But he was reluctant to leave his yacht when the cargo vessel Key Opus arrived to rescue him on Saturday afternoon, the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand said.

An Air Force Orion arrived on scene just after 9am on Sunday with a Polish speaker on board.

After unsuccessful attempts to communicate with Mr Wegrzyn, the Orion crew delivered a radio to the yacht.

"Once the Polish speaker - who was known to the man - made radio contact with him, he was able to convince him of the gravity of the situation and he agreed to leave his boat," RCCNZ search and rescue mission coordinator Dave Wilson said.

The crew of the Key Opus dropped a net down the ship's side to allow the Mr Wegrzyn to clamber up, while the Orion continued to circle overhead, monitoring the rescue.

Weather conditions in the area were rough throughout the operation with 25 knot winds and a three metre swell.

RCCNZ is now broadcasting a warning for other vessels that the yacht is drifting in the area.

Mr Wegrzyn man was unharmed.

His 10.6m yacht was equipped with a VHF radio and life raft, and had been headed for Cape Horn as part of a journey around the world .

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