1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race
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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.
The 1998 race, like every other edition, began on Sydney Harbour, at noon on Boxing Day (26 December 1998), before heading south for 630 nautical miles (1,171 km) through the Tasman Sea, past Bass Strait, into Storm Bay and up the Derwent River, to cross the finish line in Hobart, Tasmania.
1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race Tragedy
The 1998 fleet comprised 115 starters. Of these, only 44 yachts completed the race, after severe weather conditions struck the fleet off the south-eastern Australian coast. An unusually strong low pressure depression developed which resulted in mid-summer snow across parts of south-east Australia. The weather system built into an exceptionally strong storm with winds reaching up to 70 knots, similar in strength to a lower-category Tropical cyclone. The rising storm produced an enormous waterspout perilously close to one yacht, and ultimately caused the sinking of five boats and the deaths of six sailors. Additionally a record 66 yachts retired from the race, and 55 other sailors had to be airlifted from their yachts by rescue helicopter. 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.
As a result, the crew eligibility rules were tightened, requiring a higher minimum age and experience.
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 no effort 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."
Three books have been written about the race, The Proving Ground by G. Bruce Knecht, Fatal Storm by Rob Mundle, and Knockdown by Martin Dugard.
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, 28 December 1998).
115 yachts registered to begin the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht race. They are:
|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|
|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|
|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|
Line Honours Results (Top 10)
|Position||Sail Number||Yacht||State/Country||Yacht Type||LOA
|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
Handicap Results (Top 10)
|Position||Sail Number||Yacht||State/Country||Yacht Type||LOA
|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.
- Abernethy, John (12 December 2000). "NSW Coroners Report" (PDF). NSW Coroners Office.
- Kennedy, Alan (3 April 2004). "Race storm ends for maligned skipper". Sydney Morning Herald.
- Lamont, Leonie (12 October 2005). "Families vindicated as yacht club settles race case". Sydney Morning Herald.
- Turner, Chris (10 March 2000). "Report To The Coroner: 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race Yachting Harnesses and Lines" (PDF). WorkCover New South Wales.
- van Kretschmar, Hugo (May 1999). "Report of the 1998 Sydney Hobard Race Review Committee (Cover to page 86)" (PDF). Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.