Gale Force Winds
Cause Dismastings Early In ROLEX SYDNEY HOBART Race
Steep seas and unforecast
winds gusting up to gale force strength resulted in two of the potential
line honors contenders dismasting last night in the Rolex Sydney Hobart.
At 0308 (Australian time) the
crew of ABN AMRO One advised the Race Committee that they had dismasted.
Despite a forecast indicating there would be no more than 20 knots, ABN AMRO
One were experiencing 30-35 knots of wind gusting up to 37-38 at the time,
making 10.5-11 knots to the east of the fleet.
"It was all familiar territory,"
commented skipper Mike Sanderson, who skippered the boat through
considerably worse conditions to a decisive victory in the Volvo Ocean Race
earlier this year. "There were two big bangs and it all came tumbling down.
Something broke which had just worn out. Maybe we were lucky it didn't go in
the Volvo Ocean Race. All we have left is up to the first spreader." Being
pitch black in the early hours of the morning at the time of the incident,
the exact cause of the breakage remains a mystery.
With the mast flailing around the
crew were concerned about damaging the carbon fiber hull of their boat and
hurriedly set about cutting through the carbon fiber spar, PBO rigging and
numerous thick ropes, in order to free the rig from the hull.
Fortunately no one was injured in
the incident. "The boys are a bit shaken up and disappointed - we were going
well," said Sanderson. At present ABN AMRO is motoring back to Sydney and
their present ETA is 24-48 hours time.
In an altogether more serious
incident that resulted in six casualties, the 30m line honors contender
Maximus skippered by co-owners Charles St Clair Brown and Bill Buckley
dismasted shortly after ABN AMRO One at 0300 local time. At the time they
were closer to the shore than ABN AMRO, sailing in 28 knots in a sea that
was lumpy but nothing extraordinary. "The boat was going very nicely, we'd
been sitting on 12-12.5 knots and we were in good shape, just trucking down
the coast," recounted one of the injured crewman, Ian Trelaven.
operation underway with MAXIMUS.
Photo by: Daniel Forster/ Rolex.
On Maximus it was a
forestay fitting that broke, resulting in the towering carbon fiber spar
crashing directly backwards into the cockpit. At the time the crew were
preparing for a tack and the falling spar nearly crushed several crew at the
aft end of the cockpit, thankfully saved as the fall was broken by the twin
steering wheels and the handles for the grinders. "I think we were
incredibly lucky no one was killed," said Treleaven.
In the dismasting Trevalen had
suffered a head injury which briefly knocked him unconscious. "I was down to
leeward getting ready for the leeward traveler and heard the crunching. I
hit the deck and the boom must have got me in the back of the head and just
pushed me into the deck. I landed on a winch and it stopped doing any
serious damage to me."
Others hurt were Glenn Attrill,
George Hendy, David Mundy and Martin Hannon suffering a mixture of injury to
their lower back, head, ribs and pelvis. Most seriously hurt was New
Zealander David Mundy who broke his leg and some ribs and was airlifted off
in a stretcher. At first light this morning three crew were taken ashore to
Moruya Hospital by helicopter while two were transported ashore to
Batesman's Bay by police launch.
In the dismasting Maximus'
rudder was slightly damaged and a sail became wrapped around the propeller.
These have since been cleared and this morning Maximus was making for
Jervis Bay, steered by the remaining half of a wheel.
In total from 78 starters, six
have so far retired including Endorfin and Sailing With Disabilities
suffering steering problems and the Cookson 50 Living Doll with radio
problems. Most dramatic is Mike Freebairn's 1968 Sydney Hobart race winner,
Ray White Koolmooloo that is sinking. At the time of writing she was 60
miles off Narooma and two rescue helicopters along with the British services
former Challenge 67 yacht Adventure, were en route to rescue her eight crew.
Meanwhile the race continues with
Bob Oatley's Wild Oats 5.5 miles ahead of Skandia. At 1000 local time
the race favorite was approaching Gabo Island making 10.8 knots. Under IRC
handicap, several of the 'classic boats' are doing well with the 1973 built
two-time overall winner Love & War of Simon Kurts leading Lou Abrahams'
Sydney 38 Challenge and Impeccable sailed by John Walker, at 84 the oldest
skipper in the Rolex Sydney Hobart.
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