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Celebrated Aussie Sailor Passes In Sailing Incident

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  • Celebrated Aussie Sailor Passes In Sailing Incident

    Celebrated Sailor Peter Warner Killed in Yacht Capsize on NSW coast
    Freya Noble Reports

    One of Australia's most celebrated sailors has died after his yacht capsized in rough seas on the NSW North Coast this morning.
    Peter Warner, 90, won three Sydney to Hobarts in the 1960s, but it was his rescue of marooned youngsters in the South Pacific that made him famous around the world.
    Warner's yacht rolled on the incoming tide on the Ballina bar just before 9am today, throwing the 90-year-old and a teenager with him overboard.

    The 17-year-old managed to drag Warner to shore where a member of the public commenced CPR until paramedics arrived.
    He died at the scene.
    The teenage boy with him was uninjured.
    A love of the sea
    At just 17 Warner ran away from home and off to sea for a year, rebelling against joining the family business.
    His father was Sir Arthur Warner, one of Australia's richest men of his day, and head of Astor Radio Corporation, the country's largest electronic manufacturing companies at the time.
    As a teenager he returned home but fled again for another three years when he was just six weeks into a law degree.
    Warner served in both the Swedish and Norwegian navies. He learned Swedish and sat for the exams to obtain a Swedish master's ticket.
    Eventually, Warner came home and worked for his father for a few years, but the ocean was always calling.
    He then spent 30 years living in Tonga and moving around the South Pacific.

    A historic rescue
    In 1966, Warner discovered a group of shipwrecked Tongan teenagers who were stranded on an island for more than a year and presumed dead.
    He was sailing his fishing boat Just David past the Tongan Island on 'Ata when he noticed burned patches of grass on the side of the island.
    Six schoolboys had run away from their Catholic school, stolen a fishing boat, and then after eight days stranded at sea due to bad weather landed on the uninhabited island.
    "The boys had set up a small commune with food garden, hollowed-out tree trunks to store rainwater, a gymnasium with curious weights, a badminton court, chicken pens and a permanent fire, all from handiwork, an old knife blade and much determination," he wrote in his memoir.
    Three Sydney to Hobart wins
    At the helm of his yacht Aston, Warner won line honours in three Sydney to Hobart races – in 1961, 1963, and 1964.
    In 1962 he came second by just one minute.

    A real life Lord of the Flies: The 50-year-old story of a group of teens stranded on an island
    Holly Williams reports on how a group of schoolboys worked together to survive 15 months stranded on an island.

    60 Minutes Report

    Tonight, we have a story of solidarity, hope and ultimately survival in the face of adversity. It took place more than 50 years ago, but when it was rediscovered last year it caused a sensation. It's a tale of a group of schoolboys stranded on a remote and deserted island for more than 15 months. It might remind you of the famous novel—Lord of the Flies, by William Golding—but as you'll see, the outcome of this real-life story could not have been more different.

    The story begins in 1965. Mano Totau and five of his friends were studying at a boarding school in Tonga, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean. Bored, rebellious, and yearning for adventure—they stole a traditional whaling boat—and with reckless abandon they set off for Fiji.

    Holly Williams: Did it have an engine?

    Mano Totau: No, no engine.

    Holly Williams: But Mano, isn't Fiji about 500 miles from Tonga?

    Mano Totau: A little bit less.

    Holly Williams: Did you have a map or a compass?

    Mano Totau: No. (LAUGH)

    The teenagers might have been brought up on the sea, but they soon figured out they'd made a terrible mistake. On the first night a violent storm ripped the sails from the mast and tore off the boat's rudder.

    For over a week their crippled boat drifted aimlessly. 17-year-old Sione Fataua, the oldest of the group, told us they were convinced they'd die.

    Sione Fataua: No food, no water. We was just drifting around by the wind. And after eight days we saw the island.

    It was a volcanic island, jutting out from the sea. As the boat neared, a wave sent it crashing into the rocky shoreline, leaving it in pieces. The exhausted teenagers struggled ashore.

    Mano Totau: The only thing we do, grabbing each other together and say a prayer, "thank you, God."

    The schoolboys later discovered they'd drifted a hundred miles from where they'd set off and had landed on the island of 'Ata—on maps, nothing more than an uninhabited speck.

    It was a story so remarkable that later an Australian television crew brought the teenagers back to 'Ata to re-enact their experience. In the film, Sione, Mano and their friends show how they survived.

    "The Castaways" film: They were able to salvage an oar and a piece of wire, and with this they set out to catch what they hoped would be their first meal in 8 days.

    They demonstrate how they ate the fish they caught raw and quenched their thirst by raiding the nests of seabirds—drinking their blood and their raw eggs.

    Holly Williams: Any food, anything to drink.

    Mano Totau: Any food. No matter how awful it is and how dirty it is, it's a very beautiful things to have it in that time.

    When they regained enough strength, Mano and Sione told us, they climbed up to the island's forested plateau where they found a clay pot, a machete and chickens, all left behind by a small Tongan community that lived on 'Ata before being ripped from their home by slave traders a century earlier.

    But they told us everything changed when they finally made fire—and began cooking hot meals.

    Holly Williams: How did you stop it from going out?

    Sione Fataua: I tell the guys, everybody have a duty for the fire. You have to take care of the fire and you have to say prayer for that night, and get up in the morning, it's still going.

    STORY Continues
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery

  • #2
    I saw that episode of 60 Minutes just a week ago.

    Cool story, bro!


    • #3
      It was fortunate that 60 Minutes conducted their interview prior to this tragedy.

      I'm sure Mr. Werner was happy the tale was told.

      Fair winds!