Audacious has had to withdraw from the Rudder Cup Melbourne to Devonport ocean yacht race
After a troubled delivery from Adelaide to Melbourne Stuart Johnson’s Sydney 38 Audacious has had to withdraw from the Rudder Cup, Melbourne to Devonport ocean yacht race.
The crew is very disappointed but also accepting that this happens with sailing.
Johnson and his crew had left Adelaide two days late due to weather conditions and then had left at the end of a Gale knowing which was abating. They left under a storm jib but still blew out their delivery main even though reefed. They then had good conditions but only as far as Robe where they found themselves in thick fog and no wind. Running out of time due to work commitments they left the boat in Portland until Thursday when a perfect weather window had opened for the run to Melbourne.
In the dark some 40 nautical miles from Portland they hit something which dragged the boat to a halt and turned it, they suspect that it was an unlit, unmarked fishing pot.
“We were on a dream run to Melbourne, we were on time to get through the rip on slack water. We recovered the boat really well but had to go back to Portland.”
Although they had a professional diver on board it was decided not to put someone overboard to examine the damage. It was dark although coming up on dawn and the boat was on the edge of Bass Strait.
“Our objective was to get everyone safe. We enacted our safety procedures for rudder problems and it was all very smooth. We got everyone on deck but realised it was not a simple steering problem so decided to turn back to Portland and not continue to Melbourne.”
The boat returned safely to Portland under the emergency rudder and whilst it is not a difficult repair the boat does need to be slipped and it does need parts.
“We are in awe of the people of Portland. We got so much support, people were calling other people in from all over trying to find a solution. We could have gone around to a slipway at Port Fairy but with water coming into the boat and the difficulty of getting parts at Christmas we have to err on the side of safety.”
Johnson and his crew have returned to Adelaide and informed race management that they hope to make the start of the race next year.
“In hindsight we should have left a month earlier as the delivery is longer for us than the actual race.” Johnson said.