Canada launched a rescue mission Friday after three sailboats ran into high seas and hurricane-force winds in the mid-Atlantic Ocean, Canadian media reported.
The boats, none more than 49 feet (15 meters) long, sent distress signals after winds up to 80 miles per hour (130 kilometers per hour) and waves of 32 – 49 feet (10 -15 meters) high played havoc with the craft, approximately 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) east of Newfoundland at mid-afternoon, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported.
The boats were in a transatlantic race from the United Kingdom to the northern U.S. state of Rhode Island.
Two Canadian coast guard vessels and military aircraft have been sent to the scene and are expected to arrive by noon Saturday, the Weather Network reported.
“Conditions in the area remain fairly difficult,” Lt. Len Hickey of the \ told the CBC.
One of the sailboats lost its mast and the other two suffered hull damage, he said.
One boat was crewed by two and the other boats each had one on board.
Winds were expected to die down to about 49 miles per hour (80 kilometers per hour) and waves to 20 feet (6 meters) by 8 a.m. local time Saturday, CBC meteorologist Kalin Mitchell said.
The races began in 1960 and include single-handed -- one person on the sailboat -- and two-handed divisions.
The nationalities of the sailors in distress have not been disclosed but officials said none are Canadian.