BT Global Challenge - knockdown in Bass Strait

Rough seas in the notorious Bass Strait have taken their toll on Team Veritas, with two crew seriously injured

Tuesday March 13th 2001, Author: Ed Gorman, Location: United Kingdom
A crew member in the BT Global Challenge fleet has been seriously injured in rough seas in the notorious Bass Strait. Just a day after the Sunday re-start of Leg 5 from Sydney to Cape Town, the yacht Veritas was knocked down when she was hit by a large breaking wave.

The impact caused injuries to two crew. Charles Smith, aged 31 from East Sheen, who is believed to have been driving the boat and is one of the watch leaders on Veritas, suffered a compound fracture to his left femur, a compound facture to one ankle and a dislocation to his other ankle.

Robert Brooke, aged 61 from Surrey, had the top of one finger sliced off as the 72ft steel yacht rolled on her side and he also broke a finger on his left hand. Both men were being treated by the on-board medic, Stephen Fillery, as Veritas headed to the New South Wales port of Eden to drop them off.

The yacht itself, which is skippered by Will Carnegie from the Channel Islands and is lying equal seventh overall in the 12-strong fleet, escaped with relatively minor damage. The force of the wave washed the
communication dome off the transom and damaged three stanchions, but there was no mention of damage to the wheel or the steering system.

The incident came as the fleet pounded into strong-to-gale force southwesterlies at the entrance to the Bass Strait which were kicking up huge waves, exaggerated by the south-flowing current down the New South Wales coast. The forecast had called for winds of force 6 or 7, possibly gale 8 for a short time as the breeze swung from the northwest to the southwest.

With skippers keen to make the most of the strongest currents, all the yachts were encountering big breaking waves including Compaq, the leg leader, which reported to race headquarters that it had been hit by what
the crew described as "the biggest breaking wave of the race so far". At the time of the knockdown, Veritas was in seventh position and just 19 miles behind Compaq.

The incident is the second setback for the race in as many weeks, following the big collision between two yachts, Save the Children and Quadstone, just after the Wellington re-start. That accident put one skipper in hospital and caused serious damage to both boats.

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