1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race
54th Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race
|Date||26 December 1998 – 3 January 1999|
|Number of Yachts||115|
The 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race was the 54th annual running of the "blue water classic" Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. It was hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia based in Sydney, New South Wales. It was the most disastrous in the race's history, with the loss of six lives and five yachts. 55 sailors were rescued in the largest peacetime search and rescue effort ever seen in Australia.
The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race is an annual event hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, starting in Sydney, New South Wales on Boxing Day then heading south through the Tasman Sea, past Bass Strait, into Storm Bay and up the Derwent River, to cross the finish line in Hobart, Tasmania. The race distance is approximately 630 nautical miles (1,170 km).
The 1998 race, like every other edition, began on Sydney Harbour, at noon on Boxing Day (26 December 1998), with 115 starters heading south. The yachts ranged in size from the 24.1 metres (79 ft) Sayonara to the 10.1 metres (33 ft) Berrimilla. A favourable current running south at 4 knots with strengthening north to north-easterly winds of generally 25-35 knots prevailing off the NSW southern coast allowed a record-breaking dash south down the Australian East Coast. By early morning on 27 December, the lead yachts entered Bass Strait and began to encounter winds in excess of 40 knots. Of the 115 boats which started, 71 retired and 44 yachts completed the race.
Storm and rescue
On the 2nd day of the race (27 December) severe weather conditions struck the fleet off the south-eastern Australian coast. An unusually strong low pressure depression developed which resulted in unseasonal mid-summer snow across parts of south-east Australia. The weather system built into an exceptionally strong storm with winds in excess of 65 knots (+32.8 m/s, +118 km/h, +73 mph, Force 12) and gusts to 80 knots. The rising storm caused the sinking of five boats, seven were abandoned and 55 other sailors had to be rescued from their yachts by ships and helicopters. Overall, the rescue efforts involved 35 military and civilian aircraft and 27 Royal Australian Navy vessels, and proved to be Australia's largest ever peacetime rescue operation.
The six sailors who died were: Phillip Charles Skeggs (Business Post Naiad, drowned, 27 December 1998); Bruce Raymond Guy (Business Post Naiad, heart attack, 27 December 1998); John Dean, James Lawler and Michael Bannister (Winston Churchill, all drowned, 28 December 1998); and Glyn Charles (Sword of Orion, drowned, 27 December 1998).
On 1 June 1999 the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia released the Report, Findings and Recommendations of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race Review Committee. The report listed a multitude of recommendations and resulted in changes both for future Sydney to Hobart races and yachting events worldwide.
The results of the inquest were released on 12 December 2000, NSW coroner John Abernethy finding that the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia had "abdicated its responsibility to manage the race". He wrote: "From what I have read and heard, it is clear to me that during this crucial time the race management team played the role of observers rather than managers and that was simply not good enough." But he acknowledged the club's actions to upgrade safety precautions and sailor qualifications.
Abernethy also criticised the Bureau for making insufficient efforts to inform race officials of a dramatically upgraded weather forecast about the severe storm developing south of Eden, when it was common public knowledge the race was scheduled to begin. As a remedial measure, he required the Bureau to add maximum wind gust speed and wave height to its forecasts.
The day after the coroner's findings, the club's race director, Phil Thompson, resigned his position. According to the coroner's report, "Mr Thompson's inability to appreciate the problems when they arose and his inability to appreciate them at the time of giving his evidence causes me concern that (he) may not appreciate such problems as they arise in the future."
115 yachts registered to begin the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht race. They were:
|Yacht||Nation||Owner||Skipper||Launch Year||Line Honours Position and Finishing Time|
|ABN AMRO Challenge||Ray Roberts|
|AFR Midnight Rambler||Edward Psaltis / Bob Thomas|
|Alexander of Creswell||W. Hellwig||Royal Australian Navy|
|Antipodes Sydney||Geoff Hill||Geoff Hill|
|Antuka||Raymond Semmens||Raymond Semmens|
|Aspect Computing||D. Pescud|
|Assassin||R. Roberts||R. Roberts|
|Atara||H. Cudmore / J. Storey|
|Avanti||Chris Mooney / John Mooney|
|B52||Wayne Miller||Wayne Miller|
|Berrimilla||Alex Whitworth||Alex Whitworth||1977|
|Bin Rouge||D Hodgkinson||Christopher Bowling|
|Bobsled||P. White||G. Bush / N. Feros|
|Boomaroo Morse Fans||J. McIntosh||J. McIntosh|
|Bright Morning Star||Hugh Treharne||I. Treharne||1986|
|Brindabella||George Snow||George Snow||1993|
|Business Post Naiad||Bruce Guy†||Bruce Guy†||RETIRED (Abandoned)|
|Canon Maris||Ian Kiernan||Ian Kiernan|
|Foxtel Titan Ford|
|Helsal II||Keith Flint||Keith Flint||1979|
|Henry Kendall Akubra|
|Hi Flyer PNG|
|Komatsu Blue Lady|
|Margaret Rintoul II|
|Midnight Special||Peter Baynes||P Baynes|
|Miintinta||Brian Emerson||B Emerson|
|Misty||Brian Clague||Brian Clague||1973||Completed last boat in fleet 42nd Won Class|
|Morning Tide||A Fenwick||J Davern|
|Nattel Adrenalin||David Bennett||D Bennett|
|Not Negotiable||Michael Dolphin||Michael Dolphin||1990||Retired (Eden)|
|Ocean Designs||S. Bean||Retired (Eden)|
|Outlaw||Alan Quick||Alan Quick||Retired in Bass Strait(Bermagui)|
|Rapscallion Team Syntegra||Dick Voorderhake|
|Ruff 'N Tumble|
|Sayonara||Larry Ellison||Larry Ellison|
|Secret Men's Business|
|She's Apples Two|
|Solo Globe Challenger|
|Southerly||Don Mickelborough||Don Mickelborough||Retired (Eden)|
|Spirit of Downunder|
|Sword of Orion|
|Tartan||Mark Ballard||Mark Ballard||Retired (Eden)|
|Team Jaguar Infinity|
|Tilting At Windmills|
|Trust Bank Hummingbird|
|Unipro Ocean Road||K. Simpson||K. Simpson|
|Vagrant||Arch Waters||A Waters|
|VC Offshore Stand Aside|
|Veto||Max Crisp, Mike Crisp, Graham Brown||Graham Brown||1979||Retired, returned to Sydney.|
|Wild One||Co-owner Barry Main||Barry Main||PHS All 16th, Div A 10th, line honours 35th|
|Winston Churchill||Richard Winning||Richard Winning||Retired (sunk)|
|Position||Sail Number||Yacht||State/Country||Yacht Type||LOA
|Skipper||Elapsed Time |
|1||US17||Sayonara||USA||Farr ILC Maxi||24.13||Larry Ellison||2:19:03:32|
|2||C1||Brindabella||NSW||Jutson 79||24.07||George Snow||2:21:55:06|
|3||YC1000||Ausmaid||SA||Farr 47||14.24||Kevan Pearce||3:06:02:29|
|4||AUS70||Ragamuffin||NSW||Farr 50||15.15||Syd Fischer||3:06:11:29|
|5||COK1||Nokia||CI||Farr Ketch Maxi||25.20||David Witt||3:09:19:00|
|6||SM1||Fudge||VIC||Elliot 56||17.07||Peter Hansen||3:11:00:26|
|7||6606||Quest||NSW||Nelson Marek 46||14.12||Bob Steel||3:14:41:28|
|8||9090||Industrial Quest||QLD||Nelson Marek 43||13.11||Kevin Miller||3:14:58:46|
|9||4826||Aspect Computing||NSW||Radford 16.5 Sloop||16.50||David Pescud||3:15:28:24|
|10||8338||AFR Midnight Rambler||NSW||Hick 35||10.66||Ed Psaltis
|Position||Sail Number||Yacht||State/Country||Yacht Type||LOA
|Skipper||Corrected Time |
|1||8338||AFR Midnight Rambler||NSW||Hick 35||10.66||Ed Psaltis
|2||YC1000||Ausmaid||SA||Farr 47||14.24||Kevan Pearce||2:14:41:54|
|3||AUS70||Ragamuffin||NSW||Farr 50||15.15||Syd Fischer||2:16:18:17|
|4||9090||Industrial Quest||QLD||Nelson Marek 43||13.11||Kevin Miller||2:18:31:49|
|5||US17||Sayonara||USA||Farr ILC Maxi||24.13||Larry Ellison||2:19:03:32|
|6||IRL8000||Atara||NSW||Lyons 43||13.00||Roger Hickman||2:19:32:48|
|7||6606||Quest||NSW||Nelson Marek 46||14.12||Bob Steel||2:20:19:17|
|8||2170||Margaret Rintoul II||NSW||Sparkman & Stephens 48||14.63||Richard Purcell||2:20:40:54|
|9||C1||Brindabella||NSW||Jutson 79||24.07||George Snow||2:21:05:36|
|10||SM377||Bacardi||VIC||Peterson 44||13.41||Graeme Ainley
- 1979 Fastnet race A Yacht race severely affected by a rapidly deepening extratropical cyclone, near Ireland.
- UFO 34 (yacht)
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