Sailing: Two yachts sink as storm takes heavy toll: Racers turn rescuers after crews take to the life-rafts in Sydney to Hobart classic

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The Independent Online
TWO yachts sank and the owner-skipper of MEM, John Quinn, survived six hours in the water after being washed overboard as howling winds and vicious 30-foot seas played havoc with the 630-mile Sydney to Hobart race yesterday

The 36-foot Clwyd became the first yacht to sink in 49 Sydney-Hobart races when she lost her keel and capsized after apparently hitting a submerged object 19 hours into the three-day voyage. Her skipper, Craig Escott, managed to send a distress signal before he and his six crew took to a life-raft and set off flares.

The southerly gales which have battered the south-east corner of Australia were just taking hold, but fellow competitor Dennis Pomfret in another 36-footer, Nynja Go, found them, took them aboard, and was able a few hours later to transfer them to the sail training ship Young Endeavour, which is acting as the fleet's radio relay vessel.

Les Emerson's 40-footer Adjuster was the next to founder. He and his seven crew spent two hours in a life- raft until they were picked up by Peter Joubert in Kingurra. The boat which pulled Quinn to safety was John Storey's 45ft Atara, which as Jameson 2 sailed for Ireland in this year's Admiral's Cup.

A total of 35 yachts from the 106 starters have abandoned the race, including the 67ft Hammer of Queensland, dismasted for the second Sydney-Hobart in succession. Maglieri Wines, one of the South Australia team yachts in the Southern Cross Cup, of which this race is a part, put out a mayday when she lost her mast. However, she later radioed to say that control had been regained.

The leading yacht, George Snow's new pounds 1.25m IMS maxi, Brindabella, was expected to finish at 10am Wednesday, which would be seven hours outside the record.