A MAN who was part of a life-saving rescue of a stricken yacht crew near Port Campbell has told of the absolute terror when faced with 70-knot winds and seven-metre high seas.
Sailor Ross Fisher, along with Peter Ffecht and Kim Walker, saved the lives of a group of fellow yachtsmen and were yesterday recognised for their bravery, receiving a certificate of merit from the Royal Humane Society of Australasia.
In April last year the three men, all from Brighton, were aboard the racing yacht TryBooking.com and went to the rescue of the crew of another competitor after it got into trouble during the Melbourne to Port Fairy ocean race.
By midnight the yacht Inception had taken on water and sunk about seven nautical miles off the coast of Port Campbell.
A mayday call was made by the crew prior to its sinking. The alarm was relayed to TryBooking.com, which by 2am had found the six men from the sunken yacht.
The rescuers brought their yacht alongside the men and Mr Walker threw out a rope, bringing them aboard one by one via the boat ladder. By 3am all six were safely aboard and later arrived in Port Fairy.
Mr Fisher said he remembered the rescue vividly. He believes it brought with it a high degree of trauma.
“I don’t think you ever really know the effect it has on you,” he said. “The race had hit 70-knot winds and seven-metre seas which by itself is absolutely terrifying.
“You are in personal survival mode and then called to react to a rescue.”
Mr Fisher said the first reaction was to look after your own crew “but you realise there are people in more danger than you”.
He said they were obliged to help their fellow sailors who were in serious trouble and facing the real possibility of drowning.
“It wasn’t an option that we wouldn’t do it,” he said.
Mr Fisher said since that dramatic night he and the other sailors were even more careful and mindful.
“The outcome we achieved could have been very different,” he said.
“Those six guys could have died.”