Four people winched to safety from life raft after yacht sinks

Four people have been winched to safety by an Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter after their yacht sunk 140 kilometres north east of Whitianga this afternoon. 

A search and rescue operation began around 10am this morning, with two Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopters assisting the Rescue Coordination Centre NZ to find the quad.

RCCNZ was monitoring the yacht's situation, having earlier received communication via satellite phone that the yacht had sustained rigging damage while trying to reach Tonga, and was returning to NZ. 

At 9.30am this morning RCCNZ then received a distress alert from its Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon.

Two men and two women were found by Westpac 2, having abandoned their yacht in their life raft and were uplifted by the helicopter crew at 12.30pm. 

Auckland Rescue Helicopter said the four patients were all shaken but in minor conditions.

Mike Hill, RCCNZ Manager said "this rescue highlights just how important it is to carry the appropriate emergency communications equipment. If you can't make contact, no one will know you need to be rescued."

"This crew were well equipped for the specific journey they were undertaking and had a distress beacon, satellite phone, HF radio and VHF radio. As a result, they had the right communications device for their location and were able to let us quickly know when they needed RCCNZ's assistance."