BREAKING NEWS: Two dead, 15 abandon ship, as Andrew Short's yacht runs aground

BREAKING NEWS: Two dead, 15 abandon ship, as Andrew Short's yacht runs aground

0930hrs, Saturday 10 October 2009: At approximately 0255 hours this morning, a red flare was sighted from a yacht competing in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s (CYCA) 92 nautical-mile Flinders Islet Race that started off Point Piper on Sydney Harbour last evening at 20.00 hours.

At 0317 hours this morning, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) advised the CYCA Race Officer, Denis Thompson, that a crew member from the 24.4 metre yacht PriceWaterhouseCoopers, owned and skippered by CYCA member, Andrew Short, had activated an EPIRB.

AMSA immediately mobilised their services, contacting the Wollongong Water Police, who attended the scene at Flinders Islet.

It is believed PriceWaterHouseCoopers (pictured above) hit rocks and ran aground at Flinders Islet. Fifteen of the 18 crew members aboard made their way safely to Flinders Islet, 2 nautical miles south-east of Wollongong and 44 nautical miles south of Sydney.

The 15 were airlifted to Wollongong Hospital and are receiving treatment for shock and minor injuries.

Local police and police attached to the Marine Area Command immediately attended the scene and a search of the area was commenced.

Water Police rescued one man from the water. His condition is currently unknown.

Two of the crew are deceased and awaiting formal identification. All 18 have been accounted for.

Two yachts competing in the race, Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin and Bob Steel’s Quest, both from the CYCA in Sydney, went to the aid of the PriceWaterhouseCoopers crew. Both yachts have motored to Wollongong Harbour.

Two other yachts in the vicinity at the time of the incident, Geoff Ross’ Yendys, also from the CYCA, and Michael Hiatt’s Living Doll from Melbourne also stood by to give assistance.

Yendys finished the race this morning. Navigator Will Oxley confirmed Yendys crew had seen three flares as they were approaching the Islet. “We saw torch light in the water too and people on the Islet. We knew something was wrong, so we tacked towards them to see if we could give assistance.

“Ragamuffin and Quest were there too. Loki (Stephen Ainsworth, CYCA) had rounded the Islet and was six miles away, but radioed to see if they could help.

“A pilot boat from Port Kembla Harbour Control attended the scene,” Yendys owner, Geoff Ross.

Oxley said winds in the vicinity of Flinders Islet were in the 12-18 knot range from the south-west.

The remaining boats in the fleet have continued on in the race.

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, which conducts the annual race, responded immediately. Commodore Matt Allen and Rear Commodore Garry Linacre headed to Wollongong.

The incident is currently in the hands of the Water Police, who will make a statement about the accident when the full facts are known.

In an earlier incident, a female crew member on the yacht Patrice Six, owned by CYCA member Tony Kirby, was washed overboard, but recovered quickly with no injuries sustained.