|HOBART, 11:13:00 AM AEDT-(28-12-2004)
Veteran Rolex Sydney Hobart skipper Syd Fischer, who was sailing his 35th race to Hobart, reported to the Race Committee at 10.55am today that his Farr 45 Ragamuffin had been dismasted due east of Flinders Island. All crew are reported to be OK.
Meanwhile further details have been released on the shock retirement of race leader Konica Minolta earlier this morning.
What owner/skipper Stewart Thwaites describes as a “gi-normous” wave has crushed his second attempt at a line honours win in the 60th anniversary Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race with his 98-footer.
“Just before 6.00am we barrelled off the top of a ‘gi-normous’ wave and crashed down the other side,” said Thwaites this morning. “I was below deck when it happened. I heard the wave then I heard the foam crushing. It was all hands on deck. The helmsman was keeping the boat under control and trying to slow it down.”
“This wave was twice as big as any others we’ve seen during this race. It was a pretty hairy night overall.”
Konica Minolta suffered structural damage to its cabin top and the New Zealand crew agreed that the structural weakness would only further deteriorate in the heavy seas.
“We are facing up to what’s happened pretty easily,” added Thwaites. “At the end of the day, it is a boat race after all.”
“This year we were better prepared. We’ve pulled out due to a boat issue. We were well in front (when it happened) and we are satisfied from that point of view”.
The retirements now stand at 44 from an original fleet of 116. The number still racing is 72 but of those nine yachts are assessing the conditions before proceeding south.