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From the Archives, 1959: Federal minister narrowly escapes yacht wreck

First published in The Age on April 7, 1959

Wrecked Yacht Battered by a Raging Sea

Minister Nearly Drowned in Swim from Yacht Wreck

The Winston Churchill sinks in the heavy swell.

The Winston Churchill sinks in the heavy swell.Credit:The Age Archives

The Minister for Transport (Sir Arthur Warner) nearly drowned yesterday morning when a trailing line fouled his body as he began to swim ashore after his stricken yacht, Winston Churchill, foundered 150 years from shore near Wonthaggi.

Struggling under boiling seas, he freed the line from around his lifejacket and oilskins and swam 150 yards through 20-feet high waves to the Wreck Beach, five miles from Wonthaggi to end an epic fight against gale force winds and raging seas in the stricken ship.

The six other survivors, including his 33-year-old son, Graham, swam ashore a few minutes later when heavy seas battered the foundering yacht within 30 yards of the beach.

The five other men were: Russell Evans, 33, of Were Street, Brighton; Thomas McInerheney, 42, of Gardiner Parade; Michael Witty, 23, of Lantana Grove, Garden Vale; Russell Reid, 35, of Scott Street, Beaumaris, and Edward Montfort, 27, of Laura Street, Caulfield.

The Minister’s yawl-rigged auxiliary yacht was 10 miles south of Phillip Island about 5.29 a.m. when a giant wave smashed into the port side springing seams. The vessel began to take water rapidly.

The survivors gather on the beach after escaping the yacht.

The survivors gather on the beach after escaping the yacht. Credit:The Age Archives

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