One of the top 2007 Rolex Sydney to Hobart line honours contenders, New Zealand’s super maxi yacht Maximus struck trouble 115 miles from Sydney on her delivery voyage from Auckland ahead of the big race.
One of New Zealand’s top offshore sailors Ross Field and owner Bill Buckley are on the 30 metre boat with the delivery crew. Field advised New Zealand and then Sydney Marine authorities that during the night, a loud crack was heard from the keel. No one is injured and the boat is not taking water.
This morning Field dived down to the keel and found a 20mm crack in their canting keel, (initally reported as a 20cm crack)which is not a standard solid structure but two sliding members. During the day, there continued to be noises coming from the structure.
The Maximus crew initally contacted Taupo Marine Radio and Sydney Maritime Authories. A merchant ship the Trans-Tasman freighert ANL Yarrunga was first boat on the scene and stood by, while Sydney Water Police sent out a Police Launch 'Alert' in case the keel broke away and the boat capsized. The 'Alert' has been in company with Maximus for the last six hours.
The vessels are are now motoring towards Sydney traveling at about 8 knots. Based on current speed, they are due into Sydney early tomorrow morning.
At last report 90 minutes ago Maximus was 75 miles from Sydney Heads.
Maximus left Auckland on Wednesday, at this stage is it is not known whether the complex sliding keel is repairable. (as pictured)
Assuming she gets to Sydney with her keel still on the boat, it is presumed Maximus will go straight to Woolwich Dock to have the damage assessed. If repairs are possible, then there may be a desperate seven day repair attempt to get Maximus to the start line on Boxing Day.
Maximus won the 2005 Transatlantic race on corrected time then the 2005 Rolex Fastnet race taking line and handicap but she has not had a good run, with the Hobart race so far, in the 2006 race she was in the leading trio when her mast splintered and came crashing to the deck, with injured sailors having to be helicopter off the boat.
One of four 30m maxis contesting this year's race, Maximus has unfinished business to attend to after last year's dismasting. Now sailing with a fixed rather than a wing mast, owner Bill Buckley believed Maximus will be hot on the stern of Wild Oats XI and possibly ahead if the sea state deteriorates.