'I thought I was going to die': Namadgi Sydney to Hobart crew on the terrifying conditions

One Namadgi sailor thought he was going to die and the bruised crew spent 12 hours without power after ''being thrown around in a washing machine'' in terrifying conditions in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

The eight-man Namadgi crew was tossed around its tiny boat in gale-force winds and massive seas as they continued their journey to Hobart.

But despite tears in the mainsail, sea sickness, 45-knot winds and massive waves, Canberra's centenary boat is aiming to dock in Hobart on Tuesday in time for a lunch date as one of the last competitors to arrive.

The Namadgi crew let out a massive sigh of relief on Monday morning as conditions eased and their power  was restored.

Gale force winds pounded the Sydney to Hobart boats for 24 hours, reducing the fleet to 65 and leaving boats with snapped masts, torn sails and one sailor with a broken leg.

The Namadgi crew were still in shock on Monday morning, joking that the waves were ''100 feet''.

Namadgi escaped with bruises, three rips in one of the sails and crew member Peter Morris was struck down with debilitating sea sickness.

''I thought I was going to die and then when I thought I was going to live, I wanted to die,'' Namadgi's Peter Morris said.

''It was pretty bad. I haven't seen anything like that. But now it's pleasant down the coast of Tasmania after going through this gale in Bass Strait was extremely hairy.''

Namadgi is in a ''fierce battle'' for last place with three boats all in close range to round out the fleet.

Deja Vu and 41 SUD are the other two boats near Namadgi, which hopes to finish by Tuesday afternoon, five days after the race started.

Namadgi survived a ''character building'' and harrowing night getting slammed.

Making things worse was a power failure, which meant the crew had no lights or navigation as they slowly edged closer to Hobart.

The worst conditions were on early Sunday morning when skipper Paul Jones reported the 45-knot winds to race control.

''We couldn't see the compass, we were even wearing ski goggles and the waves were coming into the cockpit and the ski goggles didn't even help,'' Jones said.

''We could see the huge front coming in, there was no avoiding it.

''All hell broke loose. It was pretty wild and woolly. We sustained some damage, some that we can prepare. people got knocked around and are bruised, but we're still here.''

News of Namadgi's nightmare on the ocean follows fellow Canberran Erik Adriaanse finishing his 25th Sydney to Hobart on Sunday and earning a ''Hobart Hero'' status.

Jones, 59 and in his ninth Sydney to Hobart, described the swell as ''a confused sea'' with conflicting waves sending Namadgi crashing down and the crew thrown around.

''A yacht isn't an arm chair, so when you get thrown around you hit something hard,'' Jones said.

''I don't think there's anyone who doesn't have bruises, some have cuts as well. But that's just the way life is at sea.

''Someone said it was like being thrown around in a washing machine and it was. There was white water everywhere.''

A power main switch failed, making life even harder with only emergency lights for 12 hours.

Namadgi didn't even know if any other boats were nearby because its navigation systems were knocked out.

The worst conditions Jones has seen were in 2000 when fellow crew members suffered broken ribs and bones.

''When we regrouped the next morning I looked at the guys and said, 'this is great'. They all looked at me and thought I was from Mars. But we're all alive and still going,'' Jones said.

''I thought we'd get through it and keep going ... life at sea is like that, you've got to find a solution and keep going.

''These conditions were up there with the worst, but in the scale of things it was minor stuff. We had to go back to basics when we lost power. Salt water was everywhere, we were out there in the wild of it and just hung in there.

''But we've got a lunch engagement to make [in Hobart] on Tuesday, that's what we're aiming for to finish with but you just never know with the weather.''

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