Sailors Stephen Jones and Tanya Davies rescued in Pacific off Tonga

Stephen Jones and Tanya Davies Stephen Jones and Tanya Davies had originally feared the vessel was going to sink

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A Welsh sailor has been rescued in the Pacific Ocean after his yacht overturned in a storm.

Stephen Jones, 52, from Llandudno Junction, and his partner Tanya Davies, 43, suffered head injuries.

The rescue was hampered by rough seas and Radio New Zealand said earlier it was unclear when boats would be able to save the pair.

The yacht went over in high winds 700km (435 miles) south west of Tonga and 1,260km (783 miles) from New Zealand.

The 38ft (11.6m) boat, called Windigo, righted itself and both Mr Jones and Ms Davies managed to stay on board.

Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) said Mr Jones also suffered a back injury during the incident, but his and Ms Davies's injuries were not thought to be serious.

Start Quote

This is the outcome we have been working towards since the emergency beacon was activated on Wednesday afternoon”

End Quote Keith Allen New Zealand search and rescue

RCCNZ said the pair had been taken aboard the cargo ship Chengtu at 9am New Zealand time, where they were receiving a medical check up.

The Chengtu is now heading south to rendezvous with the navy vessel, HMNZS Otago.

Keith Allen of RCCNZ paid tribute to the efforts of the Chengtu, the yacht Adventure Bound, which had been in the area overnight, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF).

Its pilots made three flights to the stricken yacht, while an aircraft from the French navy also made two trips from the Pacific island, Noumea.

Mr Allen said: "This is the outcome we have been working towards since the emergency beacon was activated on Wednesday afternoon.

Emergency message
Windigo yacht The Windigo had rolled over in winds of 75km/h (46mph)

"It is the result of an excellent coordinated effort involving the RNZAF, which provided a link for the two people on the Windigo when there was no other means of contact, and the Navy, and I would also like to express my appreciation to the captain of the Chengtu and the crew of the Adventure Bound for their efforts."

Rescue agencies in New Zealand received an emergency message from the yacht on Wednesday.

Speaking before the rescue, Mr Jones's mother Elizabeth said the pair originally feared the yacht would sink.

She spoke to the New Zealand coastguard and said her son and Ms Davies, from Auckland, were hoping to ride the storm out while they waited to be rescued.

She said a large swell had overturned the boat during a storm.

Location map

"It's gone back up again but it has taken water on board as well," she said.

"The first thing we heard was they were expecting it to go down and they had locked themselves in a cabin.

"They're both injured because they've been thrown. The storm is 75km an hour with the wind, and the waves are 10m high so they're in the middle of that.

"They've been in distress for nearly two days now."

Mr Jones, an experienced yachtsman who has been sailing for over 25 years, and Ms Davies, whose parents are from south Wales, were travelling from Tonga to New Zealand.

He has been based in Australia for many years but has been living on the yacht for about two-and-a-half years.

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