A yacht that was crippled by a Pacific storm earlier this month while taking part in an around-the-world race set sail from Oakland again Saturday on the next leg of the race.

The Geraldton Western Australia, a 68-foot yacht competing in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race, sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge after more than a week of repairs in Oakland, according to race organizers.

It was accompanied by nine other boats competing in the race, which will make its next stop in New York via the Panama Canal. The race began in Southampton, England on July 31, 2011, and will end there on July 22, 2012 after traveling more than 40,000 miles and visiting six continents.

The Geraldton was heavily damaged on March 31 when it was struck by a large wave in a storm about 400 miles off the California coast.

The wave swept away the steering wheel and mounting, as well as somecommunications equipment, according to race organizers.

The U.S. Coast Guard brought two injured crewmembers–Jane Hitchins, 50, and Nik Brbora, 29 – into Oakland on April 2, a day after they were transferred at sea from the Geraldton to the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bertholf.

The yacht itself sailed into the Bay around 3:30 a.m. April 3 using partial motor power and an emergency steering system.

Brbora was back on board today when the Geraldton set sail, organizers said.

“The crew is very excited to get back to sea and focus on racing again,” skipper Juan Coetzer said.

So intense is the competition that three boats crossed the starting line prematurely and were ordered to circle back to cross it again.

The Geraldton is currently in seventh place. The only U.S. entry, the New York, is in fifth place.

Sara Gaiser, Bay City News

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