(27 Dec 2001)
Off east coast of Australia - 27 December 2001
1. Various of twister in front of Nicorette yacht
2. Nicorette crew below decks
3. Wide shot Nicorette yacht battling through high seas
4. Zoom in on twister from coast
A big twister struck the Sydney to Hobart yacht race late on Wednesday, nearly knocking out favourites the Nicorette team.
Disaster struck the Swedish maxi yacht off the east coast of Australia, tearing its mainsail and nearly carrying away skipper Ludde Ingvall.
He described the experience as "surreal".
Seasoned sailor Ingvall said he'd seen twisters before but had always managed to avoid them.
But this one followed the boat and they had no choice but to go through the middle of it.
Nicorette managed to get back on track by Thursday, closing the gap on race leader and Volvo around-the-world entrant Illbruck of Germany.
The encounter with the twister had forced Nicorette to drop back into 15th place overnight.
Skipper Ludde Ingvall said the 80-foot maxi was now in about sixth position and making up ground with the use of its backup mainsail.
Nicorette last year recorded the second fastest line-honours victory in the 57-year history of the 630-nautical-mile Sydney to Hobart race.
The race record of 1 day, 19 hours, 48 minutes and 2 seconds was set in 1999 by Danish 60-footer Nokia.
Earlier Thursday, eight of the 75 starters had retired after a night of thunderstorm activity and southwesterly winds of up to 30 knots.
Boats contesting the Volvo Ocean Race filled the top positions.
They are en route to Auckland, New Zealand on the third leg of the around-the-world race, with a stop in Hobart.
Illbruck is the overall race leader after winning the first two legs.
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