среда, 29 февраля 2012 г.

NSW: Eight rescued as Sydney-Hobart yacht sinks

AAP General News (Australia)
NSW: Eight rescued as Sydney-Hobart yacht sinks

By Paul Mulvey and Kate Corbett

SYDNEY, Dec 27 AAP - The devastated crew of stricken Sydney to Hobart yacht Koomooloo
has been rescued, but the 38-year-old timber boat is expected to sink.

Two helicopters hovered as the eight crew members were transferred by life raft to
fellow race competitor Adventure after issuing a mayday call at around 9am (AEDT) today.

The 1968 Sydney-Hobart race winner was leading the race on handicap when it fell heavily
off a wave and started taking on water about 60 nautical miles (100km) off the NSW far
south coast.

The crew will stay on board Adventure, which changed course to answer the call, and
will wait for a police launch which is due to pick them up later this afternoon and take
them to Eden.

"We did everything we could to keep it afloat. The last sighting it was afloat, but
we expect it to sink," skipper Mike Freebairn said by phone to race organisers, the Cruising
Yacht Club of Australia, in Sydney.

"We're all pretty devastated. Standing on the boat looking around, it's been pretty
hard to believe."

Freebairn said the crew ripped up almost every floorboard in the yacht but could not
find the leak.

He said winds approaching 28 knots were not uncomfortable, but they had whipped up
seas of up to six metres.

Freebairn said, contrary to reports from race control, the sea cocks had not been opened
on Koomooloo, which would sink the boat, but he expected it to be lost in deep seas off
the continental shelf.

CYC of Australia Commodore Geoff Lavis told Sky News that the weather conditions were
quite mild at the time of the incident.

"Interestingly enough, with the conditions that have been here so far it has been very
much a small boat race, in terms of the overall handicap position and in fact Ray White
Koomooloo was leading on handicap before they started taking on water."

"It's tragic, she's a beautiful old boat," Lavis said.

"It's off the continental shelf there, that's a long way down."

Lavis said conditions were nowhere near as bad as the tragic 1998 race in which six
yachtsmen were killed as five boats sank.

"It's just a tough race, they're certainly not '98 conditions," Lavis said.

"We've got the situation under control as much as we can. We have emergency management
plans, we have procedures to follow in these situations.

"It's not pleasant but it's under control from our point of view.

"It was just an unfortunate thing ... it's one of those things in sailing where one
little fitting can let go and the wick comes down very, very quickly," he said.

Eight yachts have now pulled out of the race with maxis ABN Amro and Maximus the biggest
casualties after losing their masts in big seas while leading the race.

The other boats to withdraw are Living Doll, Sailors with Disabilities, Mr Kite, Endorfin
and Chutzpah.

The maxi yacht Maximus was forced to withdraw at about 3am (AEDT) when its mast crashed
to the deck, injuring six crew. Fellow maxi ABN Amro One also retired after being dismasted

"It must have been the forestay fitting at the top of the mast that let go because
the mast just came straight down the boat, down the cockpit, out the back, boom and all,"

sailor Ian Treleaven said as he was being treated in Batemans Bay.

Sydney Morning Herald photographer Dallas Kilponen, who was on board the Maximus, said
the experience had been terrifying.

"It's a huge mast so it was pretty full-on, there's blood all through the cockpit and
just bits of carbon fibre everywhere," Kilponen told the Herald online.

"Everyone's a bit shocked, a bit shattered. At the end of the day we're bloody lucky
nobody was seriously injured or even killed."

Mr Treleaven was taken to shore on a police speed boat this morning along with Martin
Hannon, both with minor injuries.

Three of their fellow crew were taken by helicopter to Moruya Hospital with more serious

Glen Attrill from Sydney has lower back injuries, George Hendy from New Zealand has
head and rib injuries, and David Mundy has a broken leg, as well as chest, rib and pelvis

Fellow sailor Bill Buckley suffered only minor injuries and decided to stay on board
with the 17 other crew as they try to bring the large yacht into port.

However that was proving difficult.

"She has sustained rudder damage and she has part of the sail wrapped around her propeller
shaft so they feel that it is only a matter of time before the engine will fail," Cruising
Yacht Club of Australia Commodore Geoff Lavis said.

AAP pmu/was/ks/jm/de


2006 AAP Information Services Pty Limited (AAP) or its Licensors.

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