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Fish collision may have sunk Sydney to Hobart yacht

14 January 2018 7:55 AM
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A crew member believes that a yacht sank in Bass Strait after striking a large fish.

The six sailors on board were winched to safety by helicopter amid high winds and swells as the 16-metre racing yacht sank in freezing waters, 150km east of Flinders Island.

The yacht, called Hollywood Boulevard, was heading back to NSW, having placed ninth in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, when the accident happened about 11am on Sunday.

Sailor Michael Spies told Channel Seven that the boat struck a sunfish – a species that can grow to more than three metres in length.

The yacht began taking on water. An emergency beacon was activated and the call went out to abandon ship. Mr Spies said the water was "exceptionally cold".

Two Air Ambulance helicopters were dispatched to the scene, but had to stop at Flinders Island first to refuel before Mobile Intensive Care Ambulance flight paramedics worked to winch the yacht passengers to safety. Three of the rescued crew were flown to the Latrobe Valley and three to Essendon.

Paramedic Andrew Allan told Seven it was one of the toughest rescues he'd seen. "The winds and swells were causing the boat and life raft to drift around, in some odd angles, which posed some challenge for us," he said.

Greeting the crew members at Essendon, the yacht's owner Ray Roberts praised the rescuers "for a marvellous effort" and was relieved the yacht's crew were safe. "The primary element of anything is the safety of human lives. It's great to see them," he said.

Source: theage.com.au

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