Andrew Short and Sally Gordon drowned in Flinders Islet Race

Two of Australia’s best known sailors drowned in the 2009 Sydney to Flinders Islet race at the weekend.

NSW Police released the names of two sailors who died in a boating accident off the New South Wales South Coast. Sally Gordon, 47 (pictured) of Darling Point and Andrew Short, 48, from The Spit were unconscious when they were pulled from the sea and could not be revived.

Ocean racing veteran Andrew Short owned and skippered the 80 foot (24.5) metre yacht, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the former ShockWave 5, which ran aground on outlying rocks off Flinders Islet off Port Kembla just before 3:00am (AEDT) Saturday.

Sally Gordon, was one of the most experienced women ocean racers on the Australian scene having sailed in 15 Sydney to Hobart races. She was the CYCA Ocean Racing Crew person of the year back in 2000.

Along with 16 other crew, the two sailors were taking part in an overnight race between Sydney and Flinders Islet.

Fifteen people swam to the rocky outcrop of Flinders Islet before being airlifted to Wollongong hospital suffering a range of minor injuries, including hypothermia and shock.

Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident and are still cleaning up debris from the scene.

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Commodore, Matt Allen, said this afternoon ‘The loss of these two sailors is a huge blow to the boating community and messages of condolence have been sent from around the world. ‘

He said Andrew Short and Sally Gordon were highly-experienced and respected, with both having completed 15 Sydney-to-Hobart races.

Allen said conditions at the time were benign and it is a mystery why the yacht ran aground.

Water Police commander Mark Hutchings says it’s unclear why the yacht ran aground when the sea and weather conditions were not considered extreme.

Unconfirmed reports from crew members this afternoon suggest that when the yacht hit the rocks, the boom swept across the boat knocking Gordon and Short along with another crew member, into the water.