Rags to the Rescue
From Chris Welsh, owner and skipper of Ragtime, as he tells the story of their Sydney Hobart race and rescue.
Start was yesterday, 1:00 PM. Crazy, 37 boats on our line, we were one of the babies. Blackjack (ex-Stark Raving Mad), Brindabella, Skandia, Wild Oats XI, and half dozen other monsters. If you saw it on the internet, we were next to Skandia’s jousting stick, umm, I mean bowsprit. They are 98′ long and they were swinging wildly back and forth midline to lose speed, and so were we. The outgoing tide made it worse. Fortunately, the one boat they ended up hitting was not us. Wild Oats was something to behold, speeding back and forth at probably 18-20 knots in the pre-start. This was the crystal meth of race starts – scary, fast, and hyperactive. Toughest start I have done.
As a helmsman, I was using hand signals (no, not that one!) to the other boats bowman and skippers. Much easier to let them know your intentions and wave them over or under in the melee. Thousands of boats in the spectator fleet behind a line of yellow buoys. Would have been impossible to sail through them in any way.