Harrowing rescue

The crew of Hollywood Boulevard were forced to abandon ship off the coast of Tasmania returning from the Rolex Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

23 January 2018


Hollywood Boulevard suffered serious damage in waters off Tasmania. The yacht, owned by Australian yachtsman Ray Roberts, was returning from Hobart after competing in the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

The Farr 55 yacht, built by Cooksons, was heading back to Sydney after placing 13th overall in the Sydney Hobart when it took a blow near the rudder. According to crew member Michael Spies, the suspect is a giant sunfish, a species that can grow to more than three metres in length. It is the second encounter with a sunfish for the yacht, which lost its port rudder after a similar incident in the 2014 Hobart.

The yacht began taking on water early Sunday morning on 14 of January. An emergency beacon was activated and the call went out to abandon ship. Marine Rescue Eden received the mayday call from Hollywood Boulevard and two Air Ambulance helicopters were dispatched to the scene, stopping at Flinders Island to refuel.


Flight paramedics winched the crew on board the choppers 150 kilometres east of Flinders Island. high winds and swells caused the 16-metre yacht and life raft to drift around, making it a tough rescue.

All six sailors were evacuated and were flown to the nearest hospitals. Veteran of 40 Sydney Hobarts, Michael Spies, and 1984 Olympic sailing representative, James Wilmot, were among the crew members rescued by the Air Ambulances.

One aircraft, with three of the rescued crew on board, flew to the Latrobe Valley while the other took the remaining three to Essendon.

The incident highlights the importance of having EPIRBs, which are mandatory for all yachts competing in the Sydney Hobart.

Allan Barnett, from Allan Barnett Fishing in Bridport Tasmania, received a call to pick up the abandoned yacht, on Tuesday night, 16 of January.

Mr Barnett’s fishing vessel Gale Force reached the yacht late Tuesday night, 140 kilometres south of Gabo Island. When they reached the vessel the bow was filled with water and the stern was afloat.

Due to dangerous conditions Mr Barnett decided to wait until morning to secure the vessel for transportation.

The crew of the Gale Force boarded the vessel on Wednesday morning, patching the hole near the rudder and pumping out the water. The yacht was towed into Eden at 3am Thursday morning, 18 of January.


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