CREW members from a Melbourne yacht who risked their lives to rescue survivors from a sunken competitor off Port Campbell in April have been awarded the 2012 Australian Search and Rescue Award.
The award was presented to the four-man Trybooking.com crew at a dinner in Williamstown last night.
The men — skipper Grant Dunoon, Peter Ffecht, Ross Fisher and Kim Walker — battled huge swells and wind gusts of up to 70 knots in the middle of the night to rescue all six crew aboard the stricken yacht Inception, which sank during the Queenscliff to Port Fairy race over Easter.
The Trybooking.com crew then struggled for more than nine hours in the treacherous seas to transfer the sailors to shore and safety.
“The outstanding seamanship displayed in bringing the yacht alongside the survivors in six-metre to 10-metre seas, and with selfless acts of strength and bravery, they successfully managed to recover the survivors from the water at great personal risk,” their nomination read.
It was submitted by the staff of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s rescue co-ordination centre.
Victorian Emergency Ser-vices Commissioner Michael Hallowes, who presented the award, praised the men for their selfless actions in rescuing fellow sailors.
“These men epitomise the great Australian sense of mateship, coming to the aid of others in the time of dire need,” Mr Hallowes said. “The consummate seamanship displayed not only in finding these men, but recovering them to a place of safety in treacherous conditions demonstrates the greatest care and concern for others.”
Mr Dunoon said the Inception crew, which included Port Fairy men Doug Abbott, Chris Morris and Ken Dusting, would have done the same in the circumstances.
“To me, it was not a case of saving lives — it was just inevitable we were going to rescue these guys. At no stage did I think we’re not going to find them.”