A boat racing competitor had his stomach torn open by an anchor in a freak accident yesterday, leaving him with up to 1m of intestines spilling from his abdomen.
The accident occurred about 10.30am as racers and organisers were setting up the course for the second leg of the Thundercat racing nationals at Mount Maunganui.
Stephen Appleby, 28, from Hamilton was impaled when the grappling anchor he was carrying was thrown against him by a wave, piercing his abdomen.
Race marshall Rowan Black said Mr Appleby was taking the anchor out into the surf with a race organiser to attach it to a buoy.
"He was setting the course and got the grappling anchor through the guts. It went through his stomach and his guts started coming out, his intestines."
The heavy spear-tipped anchors are used to hold 1m triangular race buoys in position in the sand and can be very sharp.
"The come down like a point. If you touch the end it'd just about prick your finger," Mr Black said.
Sandi Keen, race secretary, said race crews and organisers were busy setting out the course when suddenly Mr Appleby held his arm up out of the water and called for help.
She said about 20 fellow racers rushed out to help and carried him up the beach to meet the lifeguards who were coming down with a stretcher.
About 50cm-1m of intestine was hanging out, she said.
"There was a decent amount. It did look very gruesome ... I couldn't see if it was just a puncture or a gash.
"He was in a bit of shock but he was doing the right thing, he knew just to hold it. He was coherent, he was breathing and talking properly [but] he was pretty white.
"Accidents like that don't happen very often. It was a freak accident, the waves came at the wrong time."
Four lifeguards responded to the incident, staying with the injured man until an ambulance arrived. A Tauranga St John spokesman said the man was taken to Tauranga Hospital.
"[He] was swimming out to put the anchor out. A wave came over him and impaled him and exposed some of his contents. He was treated very well by some of the Mount lifeguards."
Head lifeguard James Roy said his team met the group of racers who were carrying Mr Appleby about half-way up the beach and took over.
"We stretchered him to the lifeguard station. We just did the usual first aid ... we managed the shock and we managed the injury. Obviously, with the injury, he was in "shock.
At Tauranga Hospital, Mr Appleby was rushed straight into theatre for surgery, where it was discovered he had also developed a blood clot from the injury in his leg.
A hospital spokeswoman said the man was in a stable condition this morning.