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Mae West style personal flotation device from the yacht WINSTON CHURCHILL

Date: 1990s
Dimensions:
Overall (laid flat): 650 x 380 x 130 mm, 1005 g
Medium: PVC, nylon, plastic
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Richard Winning
Classification:Vessels and fittings
Object Name: Life jacket
Object No: 00045832

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    Description
    This PFD from the yacht WINSTON CHURCHILL was found during the search and rescue operation after a raging storm struck the Sydney to Hobart fleet, with 80-knot winds and mountainous seas on 27 December 1998.

    The emergency air/sea operation rescued 55 sailors, and 71 of 115 yachts failed to finish. Five yachts sank and six men died. Crew of the WINSTON CHURCHILL were forced to abandoned their sinking yacht after it was smashed by a rogue wave. Three of the crew John Dean, Jim Lawler and Mike Bannister died after being washed from their disintergrating life raft.

    A coronial inquest held in 2000 recommeded a complete upgrading of saftey and rescue equipment, emergency procedures and weather warnings and set a new minimum age of 18 for race entry. The Coroner recommended that 'Mae West' style PFD's likes this one which were fitted over the head and came off in rough seas and hindered rescuers, be replaced by a PFD that fitted like a vest.

    The tragedy of the 1998 Sydney-Hobart still reveberates in sailing circles.

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