Disaster for Living Doll

Michael Hiatt's Hobart race chances reduced after his new Farr 55 dismasts

Monday December 8th 2008, Author: Lisa Ratcliffe, Location: United Kingdom
The bang of a mast breaking is a noise no skipper wants to hear, particularly on a seven-week old boat five days before it’s due to leave its home port to contest Australia’s premier ocean classic.

Michael Hiatt’s brand new Victorian Farr 55 Living Doll was club racing last Saturday on Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay when the breeze freshened to 20 knots. Hiatt’s crew bore away then heard a loud bang, which they initially thought was the forestay breaking. Instead they found their 23m tall mast had compressed 100mm at the deck.

“It was the full break, we came very close to losing the whole mast,” said the disappointed skipper today. Hiatt is now working with a team of experts to establish what went wrong so he can attempt to have the mast repaired in time for this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race start on 26 December.

“This certainly adds a new dimension to our race preparations....being ready for the Rolex Sydney Hobart is only a possibility now for us.”

A new mast would take four to six to build so the only way Hiatt will be heading for Hobart in 18 days is if the damaged mast can be repaired.

“We’ll just have to sit on the fence for the next 10 days. Until the mast is repaired and tested it’s a bit premature to think about lining up in Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day,” added Hiatt.

Living Doll was due to leave Melbourne this Thursday for the delivery to Sydney in time for the Rolex Trophy lead-up regatta from 18-21 December.

The current Rolex Sydney Hobart fleet size stands at 106 with Trading Network / Alyse Parusa still to officially withdraw.

Tonight Stephen Ainsworth will celebrate the end of an ambitious build program with his crew and team of boat builders at McConaghy’s at Mona Vale on Sydney’s northern beaches.

Ainsworth’s brand new Reichel/Pugh 63 Loki, the replacement for his previous Loki which had to be abandoned during last year’s Rolex Middle Sea Race, will be trucked to Woolwich Dock in the early hours of Wednesday morning and will be officially launched Thursday prior to Friday’s first test sail.

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