Tragedy strikes CYCA Flinders Island Race

Shortly before 3am today (Saturday), Andrew Short's 24.4m yacht PriceWaterhouseCoopers struck Flinders Island and sank. A rescue helicopter winched the 18 crew members from the water and the islet but police have confirmed that two people, Andrew Short and Sally Gordon, could not be resuscitated and were pronounced dead on arrival at Wollongong hospital. Andrew Short was a well-known marine businessman. Sally Gordon had completed 15 Sydney-Hobart races. Both were extremely experienced and competent sailors.

According the the CYCA, a red flare was sighted by other yachts in the 92 nautical mile race at approximately 2.55am and an IPIRB was activated. Two other competing yachts, Syd Fischer's Ragamuffin and Bob Steel's Quest went to the aid of the crew. Two other yachts in the vicinity, Geoff Ross's Yendys and Michael Hiatt's Living Doll also stood by to give assistance.

According to Australian Sailing contributor and navigator on Yendys, Will Oxley, three flares were sighted as the boat was approaching the islet. “We saw torch light in the water too and people on the islet. We knnew something was wrong so we tacked towards them to see if we could give assistance.

Ragamuffin and Quest were there too. Loki had rounded the islet and was six miles away, but radioed to see if they could help.”

Will Oxley said winds in the vicinity of Flinders islet were in the 12-18 knot range from the south-west.

The mood at the CYCA is understandably sombre. Following the tragic deaths during the 1998 Sydney Hobart race, no club has done more to ensure safety in ocean races and the fact that such events can still occur has hit everybody very hard.

It has been emphasised that the wind and sea conditions were not extreme and the yacht was equipped to the required Category 2 offshore standard.


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