ABN AMRO and Maximus dismast

Drama on first night of Rolex Sydney Hobart - more information as we get it

Wednesday December 27th 2006, Author: Lisa Ratcliff, Location: Australasia
Overnight the gruelling Rolex Sydney Hobart claimed the scalp of race leader and round the world Volvo 70 ABN AMRO ONE skippered by New Zealand yachtsman Mike Sanderson and a short time later, Charles St Clair Brown and Bill Buckley’s 30m maxi Maximus was also dismasted.

At 0308hours this morning ABN AMRO ONE advised the race committee they had been dismasted in 30 knots of breeze and at 0330 hours Maximus also advised they had been dismasted south of Batemans Bay and had six injured crew aboard.

A police launch is currently heading out to assess the situation on Maximus and coordinate getting the injured crew off the New Zealand maxi which was contesting its first Rolex Sydney Hobart. A helicopter is on standby and pending police assessment may need to pick up and transfer some of the injured crew.

ABN AMRO ONE not only contested the Volvo 2005-06 Ocean Race, they won it. Having faced some of the toughest waters on the planet, they have come unstuck early this morning well east of Montague Island on the NSW far south coast.

All the crew are okay although obviously disappointed, particularly as they were leading Wild Oats XI by five nautical miles when the incident occurred.

Mike Sanderson commented: “We are all very disappointed. We had a great first night on the water and we had managed to keep right up there with the other maxis. The most important thing is of course that all the crew are safe and we have had no injuries – we are heading back towards Sydney and hope to be there as soon as possible.”

Between 1am and 2am this morning, ABN AMRO ONE, which was well east of the rhumbline took the race lead from Wild Oats XI which had led the fleet since the 1.00pm start on Sydney Harbour yesterday afternoon.

ABN AMRO ONE cut away their rig and dropped it over the side. They are currently motoring back to Sydney.

Maximus still has the rig attached but this morning will attempt to cut it away in daylight.

A third retirement, Endorfin, suffered steering gear failure overnight and is heading for Sydney.

Wild Oats XI has resumed its position at the head of the fleet and is currently 2 miles ahead of Grant Wharington’s Skandia.

Update:

At 20:40GMT we spoke to Mike Sanderson on board ABN AMRO One. Sanderson said that at the time of the incident they had been sailing upwind on starboard tack in 30-35 knots under double reefed main and staysail. "It was all familiar territory," commented a highly disappointed Sanderson. "There were two big bangs and it all came tumbling down. All we have left is up to the first spreader."

As always the dismasting occurred in the middle of the night. "The sea state was rough. We realised the chances of salvaging the top of the mast was nil. We were trying to make the boat safe, cutting the mast debris away - we tried to cut it all free while doing as little damage as possible to the hull."

The mast fell to leeward and Sanderson is unsure of whether it was a tube failure, a rigging failure or a fitting. "It took quite a while to cut the rig free," he continued. "The hardest part was to get the rig to detach from the boat, there were so many things attaching it to the boat. For example the halyards had sawn down into the mast and we acting like cleats."

No one was injured in the incident. "The boys are a bit shaken up and disappointed - we were going well."

At present ABN AMRO is motoring back to Sydney and their present ETA is 24 hours time, although Sanderson says that now it is light they might try and hoist the staysail on to the stump.

At the time of the incident Sanderson says they was considerably more wind than forecast - regularly around 30-35 knots. "We saw gusts of up to 37-38 knots. It was lumpy - something broke which had just died. Maybe we were lucky it didn’t go on the Volvo Ocean Race."

21:00GMT. We have learned that Maximus dismasted when he forestay broke midway through a tack. This explains the human injury on board as the mast is believed to have fallen aft into the cockpit. At present six crew have been taken off Maximus - three by police launch and three airlifted off and taken to hospital in Canberra. Injuries are a mix of broken ribs, concussion and a cracked pelvis. At present we have no information as to who has been injured.

21:40GMT We have just learned who has been injured on board Maximus:

Taken off by chopper and heading for Moruya Hospital:

Glenn Attrill, from Sydney. Lower back injury.
George Hendy from NZ. Head and rib injury
David Mundy NZ, broken leg and chest, rib and pelvis injuries.

Two have been taken off by police launch and are now ashore in Batesman's Bay where they are being met by

Ian Trevealen – head injury
Martin Hannon, concussion, shoulder and back pain (NZ)

Maximus co-owner Bill Buckley had sustained minor injuries but is staying with the boat. At present we understand Maximus can't motor because she has a sail wrapped around the prop. A tow is in the process of being organised and they are still decided where they will go to.

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