11 Aug 2013

NZ sailor locked up for fake mayday

12:02 pm on 11 August 2013

A New Zealand sailor arrested on San Francisco Bay for allegedly making a fake mayday call and hitting a United States Coast Guard officer will spend more than a week locked up in a Californian jail.

David John McCormick, 47, will then be removed from the United States.

McCormick sparked a major rescue operation on the bay almost three weeks ago when he allegedly made the distress call off Sausalito claiming his "best mate" had fallen overboard.

Sausalito Yacht Club members believe McCormick was protesting over the America's Cup, which is underway on the bay, AAP reports.

A rescue helicopter flew to the scene and when a Coast Guard vessel requested to come aboard McCormick's yacht he refused and led the Coast Guard on a six hour chase.

When the officers eventually boarded his yacht they said McCormick struck one of them three times in the face.

McCormick was charged with communicating false distress, failing to heave to and assaulting a federal officer. He faced jail if convicted but in a deal with prosecutors was placed in a pre-trial diversion program where he did not have to enter a plea.

McCormick was in the US illegally after overstaying his visa and is scheduled to be deported to New Zealand on 19 August.

New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it's aware of Mr McCormick's arrest, and the New Zealand Consulate-General in Los Angeles has been helping him.