|2:52:00 PM AEDT-(27-12-2004) One of the favourites for Overall handicap honours in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Prime Time, was forced to retire early this afternoon, joining 11 other boats which have pulled out of the race for various reasons since the start yesterday afternoon from Sydney Harbour.
David Mason, the owner/skipper of Prime Time, a Beneteau 44.7, advised the Radio Relay Vessel at 1410 hours today that the boat was taking water and the radio was not operating. Earlier they had earlier passed the compulsory check-in at Green Cape and reported all was OK with the boat and crew.
The smallest boat in the fleet, Graham Jacksonís 31-footer Grasshopper has also withdrawn, with a broken forestay, while two other boats have gone into Eden with injured crew aboard.
The Sydney 38 Hidden Agenda, which was going to seek assistance in Eden for two slightly injured crewmembers and then continue on, has decided to retire. She is on her way to Eden and is due there mid-afternoon.
John Cameronís More Witchcraft has transferred an injured crewman to a Water Police RIB in Eden Harbour and continued in the race.
Heavy seas have made berthing conditions difficult at Eden where 50 knot winds have whipped up waves that are crashing over the breakwater.
Yachts coming into Twofold Bay at Eden are being directed by the Water Police to the Defence Force Armament Wharf which is in a more sheltered part of the bay.
Two yachts, the Sydney 38 Challenge, skippered by veteran Victorian yachtsman Lou Abrahams and the Sayer 44 Outlaw (Ray Semmens) have notified Race Control they are taking shelter in Twofold Bay but are still part of the race fleet.
The Open 66 Broomstick, skippered by CYCA director Michael Cranitch is the latest retirement at 1430 hours this afternoon. She is heading back to her home port in Sydney.
The total number of retirements now stands at 12.