Yacht race: Malaysian woman, husband in stormy seas drama

MELBOURNE: Malaysian Fay Khoo and her Australian husband Sam Hunt had frightening experiences while sailing in different boats in the 2013 Sydney-Hobart yacht race over the weekend.

Khoo, from Penang, was racing on board supermaxi Brindabella while Hunt was on board Wedgetail, later to lose its massive mast in rough seas.

The iconic 628-nautical mile race started well on a glorious Boxing Day, but it turned nasty when gale-force headwinds and big seas hit the fleet off the Tasmanian east coast on Saturday night.

For Khoo and Hunt, the 30-knot winds gusting up past 50 knots early Sunday was a fearful time.

Khoo told ‘The Australian’ newspaper that at first she was worried the strengthening winds would help push her husband’s boat Wedgetail ahead of Brindabella, but she soon began to be afraid when strong winds turned the ocean into a heaving mess.  

 “I had a bad feeling about this year’s race from the start. But I always thought that if something bad was to happen it would be to me and Brindabella – it never occurred to me that it might be Sam who’d be in trouble,” she said.

At about 4 am on Sunday, Khoo and her crew watched in horror as the gale knocked down Wedgetail’s mighty mast and left it hanging dangerously over the side of the boat, taking the crew about 20 minutes to cut it away.

Hunt, who met Khoo while racing in Asian regattas and events, said he felt good his wife was only half a kilometre away on Brindabella in case of any danger.

 “I was proud of her because she (and Brindabella) went around the corner and on to Hobart with a full sail up, just when we on Wedgetail knew the race was well and truly over for us,” he said.

The line honours went to supermaxi Wild Oats XI for the seventh consecutive time. – Bernama


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