(August 1, 2011) Last night at 9:55pm, Bruce McKay reported his yacht Wasabi had lost her keel while racing in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s (CYCA) 384 nautical mile Audi Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race. All aboard are safe.
At the time of the incident, Wasabi was sailing around 17 nautical miles south of Port Macquarie and four miles north of Camden Haven on the NSW coast when her keel fell off around 3 nautical miles offshore.
McKay reported the incident to the CYCA’s sailing manager, Justine Kirkjian, via phone just after the incident occurred. Fortunately, McKay’s Sayer 12m design yacht is water ballasted, which helped keep her afloat. McKay said he had also distributed the crew’s weight evenly around his boat. Fortunately, Wasabi was sailing in a very light breeze, so there was no imminent danger.
There were quite a few race entry yachts in the vicinity at the time of the incident. Mike Welsh and his Beneteau First 40 Wicked crew from Sandringham Yacht Club and Tony Levett’s Sydney 38 Eleni from Middle Harbour Yacht Club in Sydney stood by the yacht. Retired from the race, Calibre, a Sydney 38 owned by Geoff Bonus, also assisted.
McKay, from Cronulla Sailing Club, reported to Kirkjian that he and his seven crew were all wearing life jackets and had the life raft ready to launch, should there be a need for it. Bruce was remarkably calm, Kirkjian said after taking his call.
Immediately after taking McKay’s call, Kirkjian notified Sergeant Hunter at the Sydney Water Police of the incident. He put a plan into action for Volunteer Marine Rescue to escort the boat to Camden Haven.
Crew and boat were reported safely in Camden Haven just prior to 12.30am this morning. All are well.
Wasabi was launched in 2007, originally built for the 2007 Melbourne-Osaka Yacht Race for Queenslander Ken Down, who competed in the double-handed yacht race with Bruce McKay, who was born in 1960. His crew comprised mostly sailors from Cronulla Sailing Club and one from Bunbury in WA.