Many of the Melbourne based sailors, who has returned home for Christmas ahead of the Boxing Day Sydney to Hobart race, were booked on flights north this afternoon.
Severe thunderstorms, strong winds and hail hit many parts of Melbourne today and flights were diverted and delayed at Melbourne Airport.
Melbourne Airport spokeswoman Anna Gillett says lightning strikes in the area meant that planes had been grounded during bad weather.
The worst of the city storms had passed by 8.15pm (AEDT), when a severe weather warning was cancelled.
But with flights now at capacity, we are advised some Melbourne sailors have been trying to rent cars unsuccessfully for a 1000km overnight drive north to reach Sydney.
Amongst the 13 boats with Melbourne crews are Living Doll, Calm, Scarlet Runner, Shogun, Chutzpah, Deloite As One, Bacardi, Nutcracker and many more.
Michael Hiatt, the owner skipper of Living Doll, has just reported from Sydney Airport (at 10:10pm) that he made it out, after sitting on the tarmac in Melbourne for two hours, but three of his crew and a lot of the crew gear were still in Melbourne late last night as were around eight of the Calm crew.
David Clancy from Nutcracker reported an 0730am ETA in Rushcutters Bay, with crews from his own and other boats.
Bruce Taylor reports this morning that all but one his crew have all made it to Sydney but food and some crew bags have not.
Update this morning:
Taylor was madly running around the CYCA, trying to organise food, wet weather and equipment for his yacht that have not arrived, stuck with crew at Melbourne's Tullamarine airport. The Victorian, who is setting off on his 31st race south, with his son Drew sailing his 20th, is still hopeful that his missing crew will arrive in time to start the famous race.
'Gavin Gourley, one of my 25er’s is still to fly in, we’re keeping our fingers crossed both guys will make it. If not, I will sail the boat with the eight I have,' Taylor said at the CYCA this morning.
'I’ve got someone chasing food – it’s hard to find a supermarket open at this hour (6.40am Boxing Day morning) and we’re short wet weather and thermal gear and other stuff,' commented Taylor who added: 'I feel lucky to be here, I think I was on the last plane in last night, we touched down just before 11.00pm.'
There are (perhaps superstitiously) 13 Victorian yachts in the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart and so far, only the yacht Shogun, Rob Hanna’s TP52 is the only one with a full complement of crew, but even he is affected, as some wet weather gear is still on its way here.
Most of the interstate crews in the race head home for Christmas to spend precious time with their families and return to the CYCA on Christmas night or Boxing Day morning.
The CYCA’s commodore, Garry Linacre, said the Club would do all it could to help those affected to chase down food, wet weather gear etc. in time for the 1.00pm start.
This morning, the CEO of one of the event sponsors Musto, Duncan Curnow is heading for his Brookvale warehouse to load up with offshore wet weather gear, for the sailors whose gear bags are still in Melbourne.
More news as it comes to hand.