WEB EXCLUSIVE - Tragedy hits home for boaties

The Australian boating industry is in mourning after the tragic death of two of its favourite stars

WEB EXCLUSIVE - Tragedy hits home for boaties
WEB EXCLUSIVE — Tragedy hits home for boaties

The boating industry is in mourning after the tragic death of two of its favourite stars — world-renowned yachties Andrew Short and Sally Gordon.

Mr Short and Ms Gordon were washed overboard by huge waves as the skipper and his crew desperately tried to back his stricken yacht PricewaterhouseCooper (formally known as Shockwave, one of Australia’s fastest yachts) off a small rocky outcrop near Port Kembla. The yacht was competing in an overnight race from Sydney to Wollongong when disaster struck.

Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, surviving crew member Matt Pearce said Andrew’s yacht was rounding a mark of Flinders Islet when it was hit by a series of huge waves.

"All of a sudden, a couple of sets broke in front of us and out of nowhere I saw the reef," Pearce said.

"The bow came down and we hit the ground hard. We tried to get off, but the keel was stuck on the bottom.

"The crew pulled down the sails and started the motor, trying to get clear.

"But the boat gybed and the mast snapped and went over the side," said Pearce.

According to other survivors the boat came back over on its other side; then, a couple more waves slammed into her and the green water started dragging people over the side.

Pearce said he saw Sally get washed overboard and Andrew holding the helm before the enormous force of a wave washed the wheel off its pedestal, and the skipper overboard with it.

"I didn’t see him again. The boat was lifted by a wave and landed on its side on the rocks. We had a 30-second window of opportunity and we all jumped off. Within minutes the yacht was gone," said Pearce.

Andrew and Sally’s bodies were pulled from the water by two of the 21 other boats contesting the race.

Short’s 19-year-old son Nicholas was also washed into the sea, but was saved. Another son, 14-year-old Mitch, and 14 other crew were rescued after they somehow scrambled onto the rocks. It took ambulance paramedics in a rescue helicopter three hours to winch the 15 survivors to safety.

Both Andrew and Sally were veterans of 15 Sydney to Hobart Races and both had survived the horrific 1998 race, when six men lost their lives.

RIP Shorty and Sally.

Photo: Andrew Short.


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