Vale Peter

Australian sailing icon Peter Warner has died following a capsize in northern New South Wales.

14 April 2021


Australian sailing icon and three-time Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race winner, Peter Warner, has sadly died earlier this week following his boat capsizing in northern New South Wales.

Current reports indicate that prior to 9am Tuesday, 14 April, Warner’s yacht rolled as attempted to the cross the Ballina Bar at the mouth of the Richmond River.

Emergency services were called to East Ballina’s Lighthouse Parade at 8:45am after Warner was dragged to shore but sadly, he died at the scene.

He was 90 years old.

Officers from Richmond Police District have been reported to have established a crime scene and have commenced inquiries into the incident and its circumstances.

Warner is remembered as an icon of the sport, taking line honours in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race aboard his yacht Astor in 1961, 1963 and 1964.


In the 1962 Sydney to Hobart, he came second by a minute.

In 1966, Warner discovered a group six shipwrecked Tongan teenagers when sailing his fishing boat Just David past the Tongan island of ‘Ata.

The teenagers, who a year earlier stole a fishing boat to escape from their Catholic school, had been stranded on the island for over a year and were presumed dead.

Warner discovered the group of six after noticing burned patches of grass on the side of the island.

“Idly, I turned my binoculars on this rugged, volcanic island, and saw a burnt-out patch on a cliff. My analytical mind told me that it was unusual for an uninhabited island to have a bushfire. So in we went to investigate,” Warner told Women’s Weekly in 1974.

“Suddenly, among the seabirds we heard the squawks of humans.”

“The first youth leapt through the surf and hauled himself up on the ship. We flinched. Then he said, in impeccable English: ‘We are six castaways, and we estimate that we have been here for 15 months.’”

In 1974, Warner rescued four Welsh sailors stranded on Middleton Reef while undertaking sea trial for his fishing boat Ata.


Editor’s note 16/4: An amendment was made to this article note that Peter Warner took line honours in the 1961, 1963 and 1964 Sydney to Hobart, not overall wins. 

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