Big Rigs Topple in Sydney-Hobart

The super-maxi Maximus breaks its masts requiring a crew airlift; ABN AMRO follows up, leaving the race open to Wild Oats XI.

Maximus Airlift

Daniel Forster/rolex

Carnage Among the Big Guns

December 26-After a day and half, Wild Oats XI continues to lead the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race fleet, now approaching the finish at 15 knots, it's division win is all but assured, given avoids the same fate the Volvo Ocean 70 ABN AMRO One and and the 98-footer Maximu.

The following report was provided by www.regattanews.com:

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 fibre hull of their boat and hurriedly set about cutting through the carbon fibre 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. ABN AMRO ONE has motored back to Sydney and has been put to repairs onshore.
Maximus

Another serious incident resulted in six casualties. The Maxi Yacht 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 ONE, 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.

On Maximus it was a forestay fitting that broke, resulting in the towering carbon fibre 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.

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