The yacht Platino has been towed back to the city of Whangarei in New Zealand.

21 June

The Platino has arrived back in New Zealand under tow.

The yacht on which one sailor died and one was lost at sea was towed this morning, 21 June, at the local time of 9am.

The tug boat Sea Pelican towed the multi-million yacht into Whangarei.

An investigation is currently underway to determine the circumstances of Nick Saull’s death. The Auckland boatbuilder was killed when he was hit by the yacht’s rigging.


17 June

Auckland City Police say the tug boat, Sea Pelican is towing the yacht Platino back to Auckland.

The yacht had to be abandoned by its crew after it sustained serious rigging damage in winds of up to 40 knots.

One sailor died in the accident. Another was declared man over board. The search for him has now been suspended.

Officers have now named the two sailors.

“Formal identification is yet to take place however police believe the body of the man recovered and on board Platino is that of Nick Saull,” said Auckland City District Police operations manager, Inspector Vaughn Graham.

“We also believe the man reported missing overboard is that of Stephen (Steve) Forno, 63-years-old from Devonport,” said the officer.

The remaining crew – two men and a woman – on board Platino were rescued by the crew of the container ship, Southern Lily.

They have now arrived back in Auckland.

The yacht suffered damage on 13 June, around 300 nautical miles north of New Zealand.

“The yacht appears to be in a reasonable condition,” said Inspector Graham. “At this stage we can’t say what the expected arrival time back to New Zealand will be as it’s all weather dependent.”

He said the police are now investigating the circumstances of Saull’s death on behalf of the coroner.

“This is obviously a very difficult time for the families of both men and they have asked that media respect their privacy at this difficult time,” stated Inspector Graham.
15 June

The search for a sailor, who went overboard from the Yacht Platino on 13 June, has been suspended.

The vessel was around 300 nautical miles north of New Zealand when the incident happened.

The man, in his 60s, is understood to have been relatively lightly clothed and not wearing a lifejacket.

He was lost overboard after the yacht sustained damage to its rigging in winds of up to 40 knots.

A Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion aircraft was on the scene within 90 minutes of the incident but, despite searching over two days, no sign has been found of the missing man.

The incident also claimed the life of one of the crew.

His body was left on board the abandoned yacht yesterday while the rest of the crew were rescued.

Three metre swells meant the body could not be safely transported onto the container ship, Southern Lily.

RCCNZ search and rescue mission coordinator, Ramon Davis said the decision to suspend the search was taken only after a full review of the search operation.

“At this point, we are satisfied that we have taken all possible steps to find the missing man – but sadly we have found no trace of him. Expert advice indicates the maximum survival time for a person in the water in this area has now been exceeded. We have therefore made a decision to suspend the search,” said David.

“This is obviously an extremely difficult time for the family and our thoughts are with them,” he added.

RCCNZ has issued a notice to ships travelling through the area to be on the lookout for the man.

14 June

Two men and a woman have been rescued from their battered yacht, Platino, around 300 nautical miles north of New Zealand.

They were picked up by the crew of the container ship Southern Lily.

A rescue line was used to help get the trio safely on board around 3pm New Zealand time on 14 June.

Meanwhile, an Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion resumed searching today for a fellow crewman, aged 63.

The man was lost overboard after the yacht sustained damage to its rigging yesterday morning.

The aircraft provided support and communications during the rescue of the three crew from the Platino.

Once the crew were safely on board, the Orion resumed its search for the missing man.

The body of another man who died in the incident remains on board the abandoned yacht.

It could not be safely transferred in the difficult conditions with three metre swells.

An EPIRB beacon has been activated on the yacht to aid in tracking its location.

The yacht was abandoned after its condition deteriorated overnight as it lost steering and began taking on water.

The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) is coordinating the rescue operation and search for the missing man.

The RCCNZ search and rescue mission coordinator, John Dickson praised the master and crew of the Southern Lily for what was a difficult operation.

“It was not easy to get the three crew members from the yacht to the much larger ship in those sea conditions – they’ve done a tremendous job,” he said.

“We are obviously disappointed that it was not safe to transfer the body of the deceased crew member, but safety must come first. We will keep track of the position of the yacht,” continued Dickson.

“The search for the missing person has now resumed and will continue until around nightfall when the aircraft must return to New Zealand,” stated the coordinator.

The Singapore-flagged Southern Lily was en-route to New Zealand.

It is now resuming its voyage to Auckland and is expected to arrive on the afternoon of 15 June.

13 June

Yacht Platino - one is dead one is missing overboard off New Zealand coast

The stricken yacht, Platino. Credit Royal New Zealand Air Force


One man is dead and another one has been lost overboard after strong winds damaged the rigging of the yacht, Platino.

Staff at the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand are now co-ordinating the search for the sailor, who is in his 60s.

He was knocked overboard around 300 nautical miles north of New Zealand at 11.30am on 13 June.

The 20 metre Platino suffered serious rigging damage in winds of up to 40 knots.

Three other people are on board the yacht, which is in contact with the centre via satellite phone.

The search and rescue mission coordinator, Keith Allen, said a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion, that was already operating in the area, was on the scene within 90 minutes of the incident.

A commercial fishing vessel is also heading to the area to help in the search.

A second Orion has since replaced the first aircraft and will continue searching until nightfall.

The search area is out of range of all but fixed wing aircraft.

“Sea conditions are extremely dangerous and the remaining crew on board the Platino have advised that it is too hazardous to be on deck,” said Allen.

“With limited ability to manoeuvre safely, the yacht is motoring to New Zealand, but this could take at least two days. The fishing boat is expecting to be at the scene by around 7pm but it will not be possible to search in darkness,” he added.

The Platino had been entered into the ANZ Sail Fiji race. Competitors sail 1,100 nautical miles from Auckland to Port Denarau in Fiji.

The yacht was due to start on 1 June in the cruising class.

The rally organiser, the Royal Akarana Yacht Club (RAYC), has since confirmed that the Platino did not start the race.

“From the ANZ Sail Fiji organising committee we send our sincere condolences to the families involved,” said the RAYC Vice Commodore, Sally Garrett.

“As Suellen Hurling, our Yachting & Communications Manager, said to me awhile ago, “this is the bad part of our sport, people die,” she said.

Garrett continued: “For ANZ Sail Fiji, the safety of our sailors is our number one priority, and that is why we strive to ensure that all boats meet the best practice standards of training and equipment.”

“Behind the scenes we make sure we have the best processes in place including the Yellow Brick Tracker and 24 hour support to the fleet. It is this very type of scenario that Platino is in that we dread, we fear, and we do our very best to guard against,” stated Garrett.

“The reporters that have called, have all asked who the boat is being monitored by, and sadly, unlike our fleet there is no group watching the tracker 24/7 and answering the phone through the night,” she said.

Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand has said that if required, searching for the missing sailor will continue at first light tomorrow.