Retired University of Colorado professor Evi Nemeth, a computer engineer renowned in tech circles for her expertise in UNIX and Linux systems, is reportedly lost at sea between New Zealand and Australia.
The New Zealand Herald reported Thursday that Nemeth, 73, and six other people aboard a classic American racing yacht were last heard from June 4 and that rescue crews have "grave concerns" for the fate of those onboard the 84-year-old wooden schooner that set sail May 29 from New Zealand's Bay of Islands.
The yacht, named Nina, was bound for Newcastle, Australia, the Herald reported.
CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard, who was alerted of the report out of New Zealand on Thursday evening, said Nemeth taught at the university from 1980 to 2001. She is listed on the CU website as a retired associate professor with teaching interests in networks, data structures, UNIX tools and system administration.
Her research interests included network protocols, multimedia conferencing on the Internet and cryptography. She has co-authored two handbooks on UNIX system administration and Linux administration.
While it's not clear where Nemeth lives today, her LinkedIn page lists Boulder as her home and describes her status as: "No job, sailing the Pacific ... ."
"Our hearts go out to her family and friends," Hilliard said. "We're hopeful she and the rest of the passengers will be found OK. We're all watching it and trying to be as hopeful as we can."
The New Zealand Herald reports that the other passengers onboard the yacht are David Dyche 58, his wife, Rosemary, 60, and their 17-year-old son. Also on the trip is a 35-year-old British man and two other Americans.
The newspaper quotes meteorologist Bob McDavitt describing a satellite phone call he had with Nemeth on June 3, during which she asked him how the yacht could avert some bad weather in the Tasman Sea.
"She was quite controlled in her voice; it sounded like everything was under control," McDavitt reportedly said.
After telling Nemeth to head south and brace for a storm with strong winds and high seas, McDavitt told the Herald that he got a text message from Nemeth the next day asking: "ANY UPDATE 4 NINA? ... EVI."
That was the last McDavitt heard from the yacht, he told the newspaper.
The Herald reported that Maritime New Zealand pinpointed Nina's last known location as 426 miles northwest of Cape Reinga, which is at the northern tip of the country. The New Zealand Air Force conducted an "intensive" aerial search this week but found no trace, according to the paper.