SMH – Seamanship lesson brought up where Race Lady went down

THE ”rules of the road” for ships and boats declare that when the courses of two sailing vessels converge, the vessel on port tack must give way to a vessel on starboard tack.

Racing with the Cruising Yacht Club on Sydney Harbour on a Sunday is no exception.

Racy Lady, an eight-metre S80 class yacht owned by Lucas engineering executive Andy Lukas, was dismasted and took three minutes to sink after it and a competitor, Vanguard, owned by former club commodore, Dick Cawse, collided.

A marine consultancy acting for the insurance company said it was happy for the vessel to remain where it came to rest, but NSW Maritime had different ideas, regarding the wreck as a possible threat to shipping.

Racy Lady, not looking very racy at all, was pulled from her watery grave yesterday 500 metres off Point Piper, having finally been found by the salvage company Devine Marine.

”We were tacking back towards Shark Island on a port tack,” Mr Lukas, 64, said. ”We had someone regularly looking to starboard but you couldn’t have someone staying there because of the balance of the boat.

”Suddenly there was a huge almighty crash. They didn’t see us and we didn’t see them. She sank in three minutes. We were able to get our wallets.”

Mr Lukas was in hospital for a week following surgery to his scalp, which he hit on the cabin, and a skin graft to his left shin.

His son David, 31, who runs a consultancy helping companies to save energy, needed stitches above an eye.

”There was never any aggro,” he said. ”The crew of Vanguard behaved very professionally and helped us as best they could. The [Sydney International] Boat Show is on this week so I am busy working today to buy another boat – although Racy Lady is irreplaceable.”

An inquiry by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia found that the collision, in May, was unfortunate and that both yachts’ crews should have been keeping a closer watch.

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