Visit Indonesia Fremantle Bali 2011 bittersweet win for Limit

The foredeck crew acknowledge the finish team as Limit crossed the line at Bali - Visit Indonesia Fremantle Bali 2011
Trevor Milton

Limit added yet another trophy to Alan Brierty’s cabinet when she claimed line honours in the Visit Indonesia Fremantle Bali 2011 international yacht race. In the process, she shattered Rolly Tasker’s 30 year old record for the race, finishing in a little over six days and five hours.

Amid the celebrations however, crewman Mike Hughes spoke of the distress of losing crewman Darryl Harris following an accident on the first day of their record breaking journey.

'We spoke to the big fella by phone a little while ago,' said Hughes after they arrived. 'He broke three ribs, one of them in two places, and his lung was partially collapsed.'

The accident occurred while the boat was experiencing heavy conditions just over an hour south of Geraldton. Harris was positioned at the back corner of the boat as it tacked lost his grip when the boat tacked, throwing him across the full width of the yacht, a distance of almost 5 metres.

Harris is a big man, weighing well over 100kgs, and fell heavily across the sloping deck until his chest collided with the runner winch on the opposite side of the deck, which has flanges on its upper edge. The damage to Harris’ chest was instant and painful and the crew recognized immediately that they had an emergency to deal with.

Hughes paid tribute to Dr Clews at the emergency department of Fremantle Hospital, who gave advice on the best way to treat the injury by satellite phone. Having dealt with the immediate effect of the injury and administered pain relief, the crew then transferred Harris to a pipe cot which they dismantled from inside the yacht, covered him with a sleeping bag, and painstakingly transferred him into the main cabin inside the big yacht.

In the meantime, the decision had been made to divert into Geraldton, where a waiting ambulance collected Harris for the transfer to Geraldton Regional Hospital, where he continues to make a good recovery.

Local yacht club members from Geraldton jumped to the rescue and replaced the drugs that had been used, which the Geraldton Port Authority was able to transfer to Limit, before she departed, losing about three hours in the process. Although she will not be penalized for the stopover, she will not be able to claim time under the rules of the race, making her record breaking effort even more remarkable.

The camaraderie on Limit has been remarkable too, given the disparate nature of the individuals. Some of Brierty’s permanent crew combined with specialists like Ian 'Barney' Walker, a Victorian, Rod Keenan, a New Zealander and a number of well respected Western Australians. Brierty though, leads by example. On the day after the accident, after yachts had finished their radio position reports, Brierty’s distinctive voice called the race control office asking for an update on Darryl Harris because 'We are all worried about him.' This sort of genuine concern for his fellow man might illustrate why Brierty has little difficulty in assembling some of the finest sailors in the world to race with him.