Casualty

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Wedgetail and her crew all safe after the dismasting – Ian Mainsbridge / all2easy

(Source: Rolex Sydney Hobart) So it was with the Queensland sloop Wedgetail,
the Reichel/Pugh 55 that reached the sanctuary of Hobart’s Kings Pier
marina this afternoon after dismasting off Tasman Island in heavy
south-westerly weather at 4 am today.

Skipper Bill Wild said Wedgetail was in the process of rounding the lighthouse island and making for Cape Raoul when the rig came down.

“We talked the whole race about where the winds were going; we set
ourselves up to come around the corner at Tasman. We were well set up
before the front came in, we were in good shape down the coast; we
trucked along and knew what was coming around the corner.

“The wind was 30 knots. I haven’t seen it that bad in Storm Bay. It just went bang,” Wild said.

“It was pretty rough out there. We had three reefs in the main and a number five headsail up, on starboard tack.

“I was just coming up actually, a four o’clock shift change. There’s a
lot of noise anyway on the boat. Then the bang. The rig, when it goes
down it goes down. We had to cut it away of course; it took about 20
minutes, half an hour.

“You’ve got to be careful, the guys did a good job, went about it
properly, did all the bits, one at a time, the boat was safe the people
were safe, that’s the main thing.”

Wild said there were other boats around them but Wedgetail did not call for assistance.

“It was good to see them there. We were looking around to see who was there in case we needed them, but we didn’t.”

Navigator Adrienne Cahalan has lived through a dismasting three times now – on Elle Racing in 1996, on the catamaran Royal and Sun Alliance off Cape Horn in 1998 on a Jules Verne record attempt and now in this race. Every time it comes as a shock.

“We were having a really good race with Victoire and Patrice, we knew
what was coming and were well set up, well prepared and that was the
hard bit.“We just went off a wave; it was a big seaway out there at Tasman, and a lot of wind.”

By Bruce Montgomery, RSHYR Media

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