Delivery disasters after Sydney Hobart

Published on January 8th, 2020

While the 628nm Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race was relatively mild in 2019, the northerly delivery along Australia’s east coast has been anything but as three boats issued distress calls in just 30 minutes on January 5.

At 3:10am, the 30-foot Jarkan-designed Gun Runner called for help when it was dismasted. Five minutes later, the crew of the Murray 42 Secret Men’s Business issued a call to report two injuries on board.

But it was at 2:35am when Mark Griffith’s Ker 40 Showtime (above) announced their keel had fallen off and the seven crew on board had taken to a liferaft, to be picked up by emergency services three hours later at 5:30am after their keel sunk off the coast of Bermagui, about half way between Sydney and Melbourne.

The crew faced 48 knot winds as they traveled up the east coast, having earlier sailed across Bass Strait in “post-apocalyptic” conditions caused by the bushfires. The strong winds broke off Showtime’s keel, resulting in the boat fully inverting.

According to Rob Buchanan, who had navigated the boat in the race, their survival was in part due to one crew member “doing one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen”. After the crew dived out from under the sinking boat, their life jackets prevented them from going back under to retrieve a life raft.

Christian Charalambous took off his jacket to head back under and get the raft. “The boat was trying to kill everybody as it was banging around and we were holding onto it,” said Buchanan, who was skippering the delivery. One crew member was knocked out by the boat.

The crew put out a mayday call and activated its emergency beacon, as well as using a personal location beacon, once they were in the raft.

“I understand from the police that a helicopter spotted us. We were lucky as there were loads of emergency rescue people around because of the fires,” Buchanan said, who reported the crew was otherwise without lasting physical injuries.

Yachts returning from the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race faced smoky conditions as they made their way past Victoria in the wake of the New Year’s Eve fires.

“When we got halfway through the Bass Strait, we hit the smoke cloud. It seemed like a post-apocalyptic ’80s Mad Max movie. It was dark at 5pm,” Buchanan said, who thought Showtime was still floating near where it capsized, 17 miles off the coast.

“It’s undamaged other than the keel, I reckon. We think it’s currently upside down somewhere near where it went down,” said Buchanan, with the boat’s insurer now likely try to salvage it soon.

UPDATE: Designer Jason Ker provides clarity concerning the keel failure: click here.

Source: Australian Financial Review, The Australian

The 2019 fleet for the 628nm Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race saw 157 starters for the 75th edition on December 26. From Sydney Harbour, the fleet sailed out into the Tasman Sea, down the south-east coast of mainland Australia, across Bass Strait (which divides the mainland from the island State of Tasmania), then down the east coast of Tasmania. At Tasman Island the fleet turned right into Storm Bay for the final sail up the Derwent River to the historic port city of Hobart.

Attrition list in 2019:
· Faster Forward, Sydney 38 – Steering problems
· Hollywood Boulevard, Farr 55 – Broken rudder
· Minerva, DK 43 – Reason not listed

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