|HOBART, 5:19:00 AM AEDT-(28-12-2004) The supermaxi yacht Skandia has been forced to retire from the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race early today, losing control of her massive canting keel and sending out a PAN PAN radio distress call seeking assistance.
Race Control understands the hydraulically ram controlling the canting keel snapped. making the system inoperable. The keel is jammed over to port.
The 98-footer advised Race Control in Hobart at 01:56 hours this morning that the crew were all OK but they required assistance. The boat is currently about 65 nautical miles east north east of Eddystone Point on the northeast tip of Tasmania, but some 60 miles to seaward.
The Tasmanian Police launch Van Dieman, which had been on station on the northeast coast, has headed out to sea and is expected to take the yacht in tow.
Owner/skipper Grant Wharington from Mornington in Victoria, skipper and owner of the super-maxi, defending line honours champion by a 14-minute margin last year, expressed his disappointment.
` It is a terrible blow to all of us to have to pull out of the race. We have sustained some irreparable damage to the keel and for safety reasons are unable to continue,” Wharington told the Rolex Media Centre in Hobart.
Nobody is hurt, we are under motor traveling at 7 knots in a NE direction and considering either going back to Eden (200 miles away) or sheltering in the lee of Flinders Island. At the moment these are our only options.`
Skandia’s retirement leaves the New Zealand super maxi Konica Minolta leading the fleet from Nicorette, AAPT and Brindabella, with galeforce conditions in Bass Strait and the Tasman Sea. South-westerly winds of 30 to 40 knots continue to buffet the fleet and are predicted to reach 40 to 45 knots to seaward, stronger in rainsqualls.
Seas also are rising from 4 to 6 metres to 5 to 7 metres further to seaward, with the swell also rising to 3 metres offshore.
Konica Minolta at 6am was 8 nautical miles south-east of St Helens Point and still more than 156 miles from the finish. Nicorette was 10 miles north-east of St Helns Point, 11 miles astern of the Kiwi suoer maxi.
AAPT was still far out of sea, 59 miles east of Eddystone Point, with Seriously Ten and Brindabella next in the fleet.
photo: Skandia, CYCA Staff