Queenslander Dennis Lehany’s Jim Brown 6 metre trimaran, Billy the Kid, flipped while racing in shifty and gusty 25 knot winds at Whitsunday Sailing Club’s Airlie Beach Race Week Festival of Sailing today.
Three fellow racing yachts went to their assistance. Hammer of Queensland, a famous old maxi chartered and helmed by former 18 foot skiff JJ Giltinan champion, Phil ‘Cub’ Barnett, stood by to render assistance to fellow former 18 foot skiff champions Lehany and John ‘Steamer’ Stanley and their two crew.
Lehany, and Stanley, from Sydney, sailed Billy the Kid back to the Port of Airlie marina, while the other two crew, Doug Watson and Bruce Whan were brought ashore by a WSC rescue boat.
Watson was suffering from back problems and taken by a waiting ambulance to hospital, while Whan was suffering from cold, but both are otherwise uninjured.
Lehany said back at the Club at .50pm this afternoon: “We’re all OK, the boat is fine too, we tore a spinnaker though. I don’t think it can be fixed. The Club was great, they put a rope on the boat and righted it, but then it sailed off while we were in the water.
“I thought it would go up on the rocks, but strangely, it tacked and officials on the course were able to get Steamer and I back on board.
“I can’t thank the Club and Phil Barnett enough for coming to help us. Phil gave us blankets to keep us warm and kept an eye on us. We won’t be able to finish the week of sailing, but we’ve been having a good time here,” he said of his first Airlie Beach Race Week.
Meanwhile, Stanley, a respected skiff and offshore sailor, was aboard Winston Churchill when it sank in the 1998 Sydney Hobart. He was later to be rescued from the remains of a life raft by helicopter.
Lehany and Stanley subsequently found a local sailmaker prepared to fix their spinnaker. “We’ll be back to race tomorrow,” Stanley said.
“We didn’t come this far to pull the pin. It’s just another episode in the fine tapestry of life,” he ended.
For his part, Barnett said: “I immediately notified race officials by radio and we stood by Billy the Kid and gave them blankets until they (officials) arrived to help. I had no idea it was Dennis and Steamer till we came ashore – a small world.”
All information: https://www.abrw.com.au/
Di Pearson, ABRW media