Yachtsman forced to sit out own rescue
A GROUP of yachtsman waited for help, stranded on their overturned catamaran in waters off Mooloolaba, in what would become a four-hour rescue mission.
The three experienced Gold Coast sailors were thankful to be back on dry land after being caught off-guard by 20 to 30 knot winds and a two-metre swell at the start of a regatta yesterday.
A crowd of curious onlookers gathered at Mooloolaba Spit as Water Police and Coast Guard Mooloolaba crews worked for hours to try to right the vessel.
The two-hull catamaran had a 15m mast which snapped. The boat's mast and other equipment dragged through the water as a coastguard crew of five towed the vessel into more sheltered waters.
The heavy mast hampered efforts to right the vessel on a number of occasions.
At one point, the sheer weight of the vessel snapped the tow rope of coast guard's 13.8m vessel Rhondda Rescue.
"We've got thousands of horsepower and 17 tonne of boat with dead weight, so something had to give,'' Coast Guard Mooloolaba Commander John Annabell said.
"There are two ways to overturn a boat, from the back, end for end, or from the side, and we tried both."
After several failed attempts, Water Police and Coast Guard Mooloolaba made the decision to abandon the vessel and return to shore with the cold, wet and hungry crew.
A diving team is expected to return to the catamaran today to remove some of the surplus gear which is hindering the rescue mission.
"Nobody hurt, nobody injured, just pride, big time," Commander Annabell said.
Water Police said the crew had years of experience between them. One had sailed around the world and another had competed in the Sydney to Hobart race.
North Queensland boaties Jenny and Craig Townsend watched the ordeal from the beginning.
The Townsends said the catamaran overturned within 10 minutes of the race start.
Other boats quickly low-ered their sails and went to offer help.
The boats were competing in the Sunshine Coast Ocean Regatta, which continues until Friday.
"A lot of boats retired because of what happened,'' Mrs Townsend said.