Shark affects world-famous yacht race

The SHK Scallywag, a yacht from Hong Kong, was running in second place in the world-famous Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race when a fateful collision with a shark Friday night prevented a podium finish for skipper David Witt.

For much of the day Friday, Scallywag led the 630-nautical-mile race from New South Wales to Tasmania before Comanche overtook it late in the day and crossed the finish line early Saturday morning to win the 75th edition of the race, which began Thursday.

Scallywag eventually wound up taking fourth because of the accident, finishing an hour behind second-place InfoTrack and 38 seconds behind third-place Wild Oats XI, a nine-time winner of the race. The top three are all from New South Wales.

“We hit a shark and it wrapped around the rudder,” Witt explained to the Australian Associated Press. “We had to drop all the sails and back the boat up to get the dead shark off the rudder. We lost about four miles. It basically cost us running second.

“We’re really, really disappointed because it’s probably the best the team has ever sailed.

“I’ve never been so upset with a result in my life because I know we didn’t do anything wrong.”

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Witt was visibly upset about the incident and his fourth-place finish in the race, considered to be one of the most difficult yacht races in the world.

“It was my 24th [Hobart] race with still no win,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald. “It’s breaking my heart. These were some of the best conditions we’ve had, but we still didn’t win. I’m gutted we didn’t place in the top three.”


The collision with the shark occurred off the coast of Tasmania, crewman Larry Jamison told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“We were running downwind when we heard a bang,” he said. “We couldn’t steer the boat so I thought we had broken the rudder.

“There was a 2½-meter shark [8.2 feet] wrapped around the rudder, so we had a bit of drama getting the sails down and clearing the shark. He flipped away, but it cost us.”

Last year wasn’t any better for Scallywag, as a broken bowsprit forced its withdrawal from the race.

“We’ll be back,” Witt told AAP. “The boss is pretty determined. We’ve got 12 months to get over it I suppose.”

Photos by Glenn Nicholls/AFP via Getty Images.

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Via OverwatchWire

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