The 1998 Sydney To Hobart
Race Tragedy

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During the 1998 Sydney to Hobart race, tragedy struck, resulting in the deaths of six people:
Phillip Charles Skeggs
Bruce Raymond Guy
John Dean
James Lawler
Michael Bannister
Glyn Charles

What happened?

During the race, severe weather conditions developed into an exceptionally strong storm. Of the 115 boats which started the race, only 44 reached Hobart. Five boats sank, and a record 66 yachts had to retire from the race. 55 sailors had to be airlifted from their vessels by rescue helicopter. 35 military and civilian aircraft, as well as 27 Royal Australia Navy vessels were involved in Australia's largest ever peacetime rescue operation.

At the time, in view of the extremely bad weather, I myself was amazed that the race was not cancelled immediately.

Findings

A coronial enquiry found that the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (who hosted the race) had failed in their duty to responsibly manage the race. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology were also criticised for not informing the Yacht Club of the dramatic changes in the weather conditions.

Since the 1998 race, requirements are much stricter in relation to safety precautions and sailor qualifications. We have hope that the 6 men have not died in vain.

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