When: 12/26/98 - 12/29/98
Where: Ocean between Sydney and Hobart, Australia
The Australian yacht race is notorious for encountering bad weather every year. This year winds were up to 90 knots and waves up to 40 feet, causing the deaths of at least five people and innumerable injuries and cases of hypothermia due to capsizings. On 12/28/98 only 46 out of 115 yachts remained in the race. About 50 sailors were rescued.
Some of the worst catastrophes were: the Winston Churchill which as of 12/28/98 was missing four crew members; the Australian yacht Business Post Naiad which capsized, its skipper Bruce Guy suffering a heart attack and died, and another of its crew members Phil Skeggs drowning.
At the end of the race, Hugo van Kretschmar, the commoder of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, the organizers of the event, announced that an inquiry led by Peter Bush, a former commoder, would cover all aspects of the race and report before the 1999 race. The inquiry was to examine input from rescue services and issues such as yacht design and structure of life rafts. Additionally, the deaths would be investigated by the New South Wales state coroner.
12/26/98: race begins in Sydney, Australia at 1:00PM Australian time
12/27/98: Australian maritime authority tracks first distress beacons; due to hurricane winds at 40ft. waves, 58 yachts are capsized
12/29/98: race ends - the American yacht Sayonara wins the race
-five people confirmed dead
-rescue operations called off with sailors still missing - major safety inquiry began