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Fatal yacht incident in Flinders Islet Yacht Race
Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths of two people following the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s (CYCA) 92 nautical mile race from Sydney Harbour to Flinders Islet and return that started on Friday evening at 8.00pm.
This afternoon, Matt Allen, the Commodore of the CYCA held a press conference at the Club in Darling Point, announcing that the owner/skipper of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Andrew Short and crew member Sally Gordon had perished when the 24.4 metre yacht hit rocks and ran aground at Flinders Islet at approximately 0255 hours this morning.
Eighteen people were aboard Short’s yacht, which was formerly known as Shockwave 5, prior to Short’s purchase of her last year. Sixteen survived with minor injuries after swimming and walking ashore from the stricken yacht. Being a cold night, some were suffering hyperthermia.
Police attached to the Marine Area Command and other emergency services responded immediately, locating one man in the water, whom they retrieved. He was one of the 16 taken to Wollongong Hospital.
Two nearby yachts, Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin and Bob Steel’s Quest, both members of the CYCA, assisted in the search, having been in the vicinity when flares were fired by Short’s crew.
Mosman resident Short 48, a member of the CYCA, was located by the Quest crew and Gordon, 47, also a CYCA member, was located by the Ragamuffin crew.
“My crew members who were qualified undertook CPR on Sally until authorities took over. She was an experienced sailor and a lovely girl,” Syd Fischer said at the press conference this afternoon. “Both she and Andrew were very experienced sailors,” he added.
Commodore Allen, who had sailed with both Short and Gordon over the last decade, said at the press conference: “Sally was one of the most experienced crew people. She won the Ocean Racing Crew Member of the Year award in 2000. She has competed in 15 Sydney Hobart races.
“Andrew too, has completed 15 Sydney Hobart races. His yacht was well-built and has sailed extensively in Europe, North America and here in Australia.”
The Commodore told how the Flinders Islet race dates back to the 1950s and has been sailed without incident to-date.
He also made sure a counsellor was available to help those affected by the tragedy.
“Andrew and Sally will be sorely missed. They were friends of the Club and friends of mine. Our thoughts and sympathies are with their families. Andrew is the father of five, married to Kylie.
“Rear Commodore (of the CYCA) Garry Linacre and myself went to Wollongong this morning and spoke to some of the crew. I’ve also spoken with Andrew’s wife Kylie and Sally’s sister Anne,” Commodore Allen said.
“The CYCA want to thank the NSW Air Ambulance, the NSW Water Police, police attached to the Marine Area Command, AMSA and the wonderful staff at Wollongong Hospital,” he added.
This whole tragedy is subject to a Police investigation and a report will be prepared for the Coroner into the circumstances surrounding the incident and deaths of Short and Gordon.