Bravery awards have been presented by Governor-General of Australia, Quentin Bryce, to a yacht crew who rescued sailors near Port Campbell. Brighton sailors Grant Dunoon, Klaus-Peter Fecht, Ross Fisher and Kim Walker received a group bravery citation for rescuing six sailors from a sunken yacht off Port Campbell in Victoria in April last year.
Kim Walker, Ross Fisher, Grant Dunoon and Klaus-Peter Ffecht, awarded for their bravery in last year’s rescue - photo by Rob Gunstone
Ms Bryce yesterday awarded 62 medals, commendations and citations as part of the 38th anniversary of the Australian honours system, which recognises outstanding achievement and service in national life.
The group bravery citation was awarded to the crew of the yacht TryBooking.com, who rescued sailors from a another yacht after it struck trouble during the Melbourne to Port Fairy ocean race last year.
About midnight on April 7 last year, TryBooking.com and other yachts were experiencing the effects of a strong weather front with winds up to 45 knots and six-metre swells.
The yacht Inception had taken on water and sunk about seven nautical miles off the coast of Port Campbell.
Inception’s six crew members tied themselves together and, wearing flotation devices and emergency beacons, drifted in the heavy sea waiting to be rescued.
Rescuer Ross Fisher told The Standard yesterday the yacht race was struck by a horrific storm.
'We got the message a boat was in trouble and then 10 minutes later we were told it had sunk and there were six people in the water,' he said yesterday.
'We conducted a grid pattern search and had quite a lot of difficulty locating them.
‘‘We were pleased to find them but not nearly as pleased as they were to see us.
‘‘They had been able to see us but we couldn’t see them.'
Mr Fisher said he and his crewmates had a lot of difficulty getting the stricken sailors on board in the rescue operation which took about two hours.
'They were absolutely ecstatic to be rescued,' he said.
One of the guys was only minutes from death.
‘‘He had given up.'