NEWS - 'Missing' yacht Frantic finally reaches port

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Hempel Paints 37th Gosford to Lord Howe Island Yacht Race

NEWS - 'Missing' yacht Frantic finally reaches port
NEWS — ‘Missing’ yacht <I>Frantic</I> finally reaches port

The Hempel Paints Gosford to Lord Howe Island Yacht Race yacht Frantic has safely reached Newcastle Harbour after being out of radio communication since the start of the 414nm race last Saturday.

Frantic, skippered by Michael Martin and sailed by an experienced crew from the Lake Macquarie Yacht Club, berthed shortly after 11pm last night with her crew "tired and wet" but happy to be safely ashore. They had ample food as they had provisioned the boat to sail to Lord Howe Island and back.

Gosford Sailing Club yachting administrator Peter Walsh estimates the yacht had sailed nearly 800nm since the fleet left Broken Bay on Saturday. "But I doubt if they got nearer than 200nm of Lord Howe Island, ending up due south before they turned back," he said.

Walsh, who spoke with Martin late last night, said: "They had taken water, which damaged their batteries and their engine starter motor… they had no electrics whatsoever.

"Fortunately, the yacht’s GPS satellite navigation unit continued to work.

"The satellite tracker on the boat, which the club had been able to plot their course, also ceased to operate seven hours out of Newcastle, but as they neared coast the skipper was able to use his mobile phone to make contact," he said.

The 11.9m Sayer-designed sloop failed to make radio contact with Gosford Sailing Club from the first scheduled position reports (sked), but after two days of racing fired a white flare at the request of race officials, to indicate they were safe and still racing.

On Wednesday, with all other boats safely in port, the Club chartered a Cessna aircraft from Lord Howe Island, which, using co-ordinates from the yacht’s tracker, located Frantic about 200nm southwest of Lord Howe Island. She was then sailing in a westerly direction back to the NSW coast with the crew indicating all was well aboard.

The Club also had alerted Sydney Water Police of the ‘missing’ yacht and of their plan to send out a search aircraft from Lord Howe Island.

Gosford Sailing Club will ask the skipper of Frantic for a full report on the incident in reviewing all aspects of race management.

Peter Campbell

Photo: Frantic returns safely to Newcastle.


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