Rolex Sydney Hobart -Wedgetail dismasted – two with rudder problems

Wedgetail on the morning of 27th December during the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
Bill Wild’s Queensland Reichel/Pugh 55 Wedgetail was dismasted at about 0400 south of Tasman Island; James Cameron’s 35 foot NSW yacht Luna Sea from Drummoyne lost its rudder at about the same time 53 nautical miles east of Flinders, the leading British Clipper 70 Henri Lloyd (Eric Holden) lost its rudder bearing east of Cape Barren Island at 2211 last night and has retired, heading for Hobart.

No other details are available about the dismasting, other than all on board are well, the boat is safely in the lee of Tasman Peninsula north of the island and is making ready to motor, at the moment to Hobart. The experienced Wedgetail crew includes Adrienne Cahalan, a veteran of 21 previous Hobart races.

Boats nearby are Jim Cooney’s 80-footer Brindabella, Zefiro and the British 82-footer Nikata.

Wedgetail’s track shows that the incident probably happened well south of Tasman Island, which is understandable given the south-westerly weather. There have been strong gusts at Tasman through the night, eight knots gusting to more than 30 and building now to a steady 23 knots but gusting to 45.

The crew on Luna Sea are safe and well. Other boats are in the vicinity. At the time of writing, the police launch Van Diemen was preparing to depart Lady Barron with a midday ETA at Luna Sea.

The Clipper Race Office issued the following statement:

'At 2211 local time (1111 UTC) Henri Lloyd informed the Clipper Race Office of its intention to retire from the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Clipper Race Director Justin Taylor explained: 'This is due to a damaged rudder bearing which is allowing excessive movement of the rudder shaft. The skipper is making a seaman-like decision to retire and motor sail into the comparatively calmer waters off Flinders Island before altering course for Hobart.

'This is in an effort to prevent further damage to the rudder bearing. The yacht is not in any danger and should make Hobart without any outside assistance.

'We are monitoring the situation and are in regular contact with the skipper.'

Henri Lloyd is currently at the top of the overall Clipper Race leader board, so this will be a big setback to their campaign.