In the early hours of the morning on Saturday, October 10, Sally Gordon, Andrew Short and Andrew’s 19-year-old son, Nick were washed overboard from Andrew’s maxi, Shockwave 5/PriceWaterhouseCooper as it hit Flinders Islet just offshore from Port Kembla on the NSW south coast. They were competing in a pre-Sydney Hobart event run by the CYCA. The remaining 15 crew were fortunate to have all made it safely ashore on Flinders Islet moments before the boat was destroyed by the surging sea. Those on the island were later winched to safety by rescue helicopter, while Nick was promptly rescued by NSW Water Police.
Typical of the close-knit community of ocean racers, nearby yachts wasted no time in rendering assistance. The crews of Ragamuffin and Quest located Sally and Andrew, respectively, in the water and bravely did all they could to save them, but tragically both lives were lost.
Sally and Andrew were both highly-experienced and capable sailors and veterans of 30-odd Hobart classics between them. The boat was big and strong, designed and equipped to handle the conditions and backed by an experienced and capable crew.
I did not know Sally Gordon personally, but many of Club Marine’s managers, staff and members knew her well, regarded her highly, and are missing her terribly.
I am lucky to have come to know Andrew Short ?– or “Shorty” as most people called him ?– well over recent years and have enjoyed my time sailing with him aboard two of his great loves, Shockwave 5 and Brindabella. Shorty’s other great loves were his beautiful and talented wife, Kylie and his five devoted children.
As well as being a fantastic bloke, a terrific family man, loving husband and a great yachtie, Andrew was also the enterprising operator of one of Australia’s most successful marine businesses, Andrew Short Marine. Andrew and his other crew, the loyal and dedicated staff of ASM led ably by Liam O’Halloran, have been major supporters of Club Marine for many years, and we have been proud to count them amongst our most valued business partners. Of course, we look forward to this great relationship continuing for many years to come, as Kylie, Liam, their supporters, suppliers and backers all intend to continue building Shorty’s legacy at their various sites across Sydney.
We join with the families and friends of Andrew and Sally in mourning their passing, celebrating their lives and giving thanks for the safe return of their crewmates. We also express our thanks and admiration for the outstanding efforts of all who risked their own safety to come to the assistance of Shockwave 5 and her crew on that dreadful night.
I would especially like to acknowledge the strength of character and dignity which CYCA Commodore Matt Allen displayed when called on to coordinate the Club’s efforts in the aftermath, and as the face of the families, survivors and the broader sailing and boating community in the media.
The sounding of eight bells on board a ship indicates the end of a sailor’s watch; a time to turn their face away from the sea and rest in the warmth and safety below deck.
I doubt either Shorty or Sally would want to take their turn below, and both will undoubtedly live on in the minds of all those who knew and loved them, on deck with the wind in their hair and salt spray on their faces.
Sadly, theirs will not be the only lives lost at sea this summer. Indeed, they were not even the only lives lost on Australian waters that very weekend.
With this stark fact in mind, I urge you all to take the time to prepare your vessels and crews well and plan your voyages before you leave home. Tell others where you are going and when you expect to be back. Keep an eye on the conditions at all times, remembering that “You’re the skipper, you’re responsible” for all those on board.
And may the memory of our absent friends help us all to keep safe and happy on the water this summer.