The Sydney-Hobart spectacular is back on the radar as boaties prepare to set off in the blue water classic yacht race on Boxing Day.
This year’s event carries extra significance, marking 25 years since the maritime disaster of 1998, with survivors remembering their mates ahead of the anniversary.
The sun-drenched and smiling competitors had no idea they were heading straight into a super cell, which turned out to be one deadly storm.
They had few warnings and even fewer options when intense wind, rain and waves turned the race into a fight for survival.
What followed was the largest peace-time search and rescue operation in our country’s history with 55 sailors pulled from the sea, seven yachts sunk and six lives lost.
John ‘Steamer’ Stanley survived but three of his mates sailing by his side didn’t.
The memories of a monster wave are still vivid 25 years on, and the pain hasn’t gone away either.
“In that scenario three of the boys couldn’t hold on, I was the only one that could hang on,” he said.
There was one last radio contact before a monster wave wiped them out.
Stanley spent the next 28 hours in the water waiting before being spotted by a search plane as the sun started to set.
“We had our torches on and it was just on dark,” he said.
“He spotted the light and he dipped the wing and I said to Gibbo ‘he’s seen us’.”
Another survivor, Tony Mowbray considers himself just as lucky.
“We spent 15 hours thinking the next wave would do us in,” he said.
The captain of the yacht named Solo Globe Challenger was blindsided by a 60 foot wave.
“It’s just the next wave and if you survive that one then you get the opportunity to survive the next one and that’s your life,” he said.
But with his crew as broken and busted as their vessel Mowbray somehow skippered them to safety on dry land.
“They’re my mates, they’re my friends, they’ve all got families, I know their wives, I know their kids, it’s pretty tough,” he said at the time.
“It’s impacted my family and my children, my commitment to my children, forget the tears, it’s been a good thing in a lot of ways.”
The tragedy transformed our country’s safety standards on the sea with sweeping reforms ensuring this doesn’t happen again.