Sailor scooped from wa­ter

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JOE DAW­SON

Reg­u­lar train­ing and ex­cel­lent sea­man­ship paid off for the crew of Akarana last week.

The Ports of Auck­land pi­lot ves­sel helped out last Wed­nes­day af­ter a sailor on a yacht com­pet­ing in a rum race went over­board.

The St He­liers man, who de­clined to be in­ter­viewed, was left bob­bing in the wake of the yacht he was crew­ing af­ter hav­ing dif­fi­culty with its spin­naker.

Brent Harsant and Paul Tur­ley were man­ning the pi­lot ves­sel and saw the event un­fold. It was a busy night on the Waitem­ata but they were able to get to the man and haul him on board in just a few short min­utes.

Had they not been on hand they say his wait could have been con­sid­er­ably longer and in the heavy traf­fic of a race night, things might have turned out dif­fer­ently.

A pass­ing yacht threw him a life ring and he was cling­ing to that when the Akarana got to him.

‘‘One of the yachts was sail­ing its spin­naker and it broached, and when it broached they lost a crew­man over the side. The boat went straight over and he went with it,’’ Mr Harsant says.

With a fleet of yachts all trav­el­ling un­der spin­naker bear­ing down on the man, they had to act fast.

‘‘He was just a head bob­bing in the wa­ter and pretty hard to see,’’ Mr Tur­ley says.

‘‘They’re mov­ing pretty quick and if you got hit by the bow it would be all over.’’

They po­si­tioned them­selves so they were clearly vis­i­ble, dropped a lad­der and heaved him aboard.

Apart from his wounded pride, the sailor was fine. The yacht he fell from turned around and the Akarana pulled along­side to de­liver him back.

All marine ser­vices crew work­ing for the port do monthly drills to pre­pare for emer­gen­cies.

‘‘In the un­likely event of an emer­gency we’re on to it,’’ Mr Harsant says.

Photo: JOE DAW­SON

On hand: Pi­lot boat op­er­a­tors Brent Harsant, left, and Paul Tur­ley aboard the Akarana. The pair plucked a man from the Waitem­ata Har­bour who had gone over­board while rum rac­ing.

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