An ill-timed collision with a shark ruined Hong Kong supermaxi SHK Scallywag 100’s chances of a Sydney to Hobart podium finish, the yacht’s gutted skipper says.
Mark Witt, who launched a scathing attack at officials over radio check-in protocols in the lead-up to the race, said the accident happened on Friday night.
Scallywag had led the 75th edition of the race for much of Friday before being overtaken late in the day by eventual line honours winner Comanche.
The overseas yacht was locked in a tussle with the other three supermaxis when things went awry near Tasman Light off the state’s southeast.
“We hit a shark and it wrapped around the rudder,” Witt, who was competing in his 24th Sydney to Hobart, told AAP.
“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.”
Scallywag crossed the finish line in fourth on Saturday morning, a mere 38 seconds behind nine-time winner Wild Oats XI and an hour from InfoTrack in second.
“It basically cost us running second,” Witt said of the shark encounter.
“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.”
It’s been a cruel two years for Witt and his crew after Scallywag was forced to pull out of the 2018 race due to a broken bowsprit.
The supermaxi has previously finished second and third.
“We’ll be back. The boss is pretty determined. We’ve got 12 months to get over it I suppose,” Witt said.