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by Mike Porter on 29 Dec 2000
Shipping Central crew member Garry Holt narrowly escaped disaster early this morning after being thrown overboard in rough seas during the incident which forced the Bruce Farr-designed First 40.7 yacht to withdraw from the 2000 Telstra Sydney to Hobart

The Sydney businessman, a helmsman and trimmer on Shipping Central who
was contesting the race for the 13th time, was flung into the ocean just
seconds after the yacht's rudder broke off the east coast of Tasmania at
approximately 1.30am.

Holt revealed later today he had feared for his life after his safety
harness broke when he went overboard, but he said he had fortunately
been able hold onto a lifeline and climbed back onto Shipping Central.

'If I'd lost the lifeline I doubt anyone could have helped me because it
was dark, there was a four-to-five metre swell with breaking seas, and
the boat was out of control because the rudder had broken,' said Holt.

'There were four of us on deck when the rudder broke – maybe we hit
something, but I can't say for sure.'

'The boat started spinning and doing '360s' without the rudder and I
went over the side. Then the harness broke and luckily I managed to hold
onto a lifeline and pull, myself back onboard.'

'It was very scary and one of the worst moments I've had in this race.'

Shipping Central, skippered by 1999 line honours winner Michael Spies,
was towed back to Lady Barren Island this afternoon. The yacht is
expected to remain there for at least two days for repairs and fitting a
replacement rudder, and it will then be sailed back to Sydney.

Until the rudder broke the P&O Nedlloyd-sponsored Shipping Central had
been as high as second and rarely out of the top six in the
International Measurement System (IMS) class vying for the
overall/handicap win.

Holt, who drove a V8 Ford Falcon in this year's FAI 1000 motor race at
Bathurst in November, said at the time of the incident Shipping Central
had been gaining ground on its major rivals in the IMS class.

'We held out to sea knowing a southerly was going to come in, while some
of the others ahead were becalmed and they had to tack back out to sea,'
said Holt.

'There's no doubt we were in a very good position to go for the overall
win because we had been having an excellent run until the rudder broke.'

MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Mike Porter – Tel: (0417) 311-997. E-Mail:

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