Marty Watson endured more than 30 hours under storm sailing conditions and steering failures in the 2013 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
Marty Watson endured more than 30 hours under storm sailing conditions and steering failures in the 2013 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Brenda Strong

Iconic yacht race turns into 30-hour ordeal for crew

WITH steering failure and storms battering the Shepherd Centre, Marty Watson learnt just what the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race is all about.

A late inclusion on the yacht, Gladstone man Watson jumped aboard for his second instalment of the race and was promised a cruisy sail south.

The race was anything but after the gearing broke and the crew of the Shepherd Centre was unable to cross the straits before the weather turned nasty.

"Our tactic was to go to sea and ride the current. We were trying to get across the straits before the storm," Watson, one of two helmsmen on board, said.

"We spent a lot of time under storm sails, which is pretty much survival mode. We were like that for about 30 hours."

As time was lost and all hope of a top finish disappeared, Watson and the Shepherd Centre concentrated on just completing the race.

With plenty of experience on a yacht, having sailed all his life, Watson helped lead the crew through repairs that ultimately landed them at Constitution Dock, Hobart.

"We rigged some steering and the idea changed from doing well in the division to making it to Hobart," he laughed.

"The weather briefing on the morning of the race wrote a bleak picture, especially for us smaller boats."

The race was not all about doing well for Watson and the Shepherd Centre, with another goal taking precedence.

Raising funds for cochlear implants was the main goal, organised by Dr Hugh Torode, board member at The Shepherd Centre.

The fundraising was made extra special because his son Will, who is hearing impaired, was on board.

"It is an organisation that raises money for cochlear implants and teaches young kids to hear," Watson said.

"We raised $9000, which was nearly twice our target for this race and we are still taking donations."

Watson is back in Gladstone after the epic experience and celebrating the crew's achievements.

Not sure when his next Sydney to Hobart adventure will be, Watson is encouraging people to donate to the cause of The Shepherd Centre by searching for Hugh Torode at everydayhero.com.au.

Shepherd Centre placings:

  • 41st Corrected Time- 4 days 13 hours 14 minutes 18 seconds
  • 74th Line Honours- 4 days 7 hours 13 minutes 18 seconds


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