A WANGARATTA grandfather lost at sea had been helping his half-brother sail his yacht from Sydney to Melbourne when tragedy struck.
Grave fears are held for Alan Beresford-Beardow, 44, who has been missing since Monday afternoon when he was thrown from a yacht named Fairweather off the coast of Gippsland near Seaspray.
His son Troy Beardow, 23, jumped into the wild seas in a fruitless bid to save his father, who had not been wearing a life jacket and was believed to have been sailing for the first time.
The search continued yesterday until nightfall and will resume at first light today.
Troy suffered minor hypothermia and was treated at Sale hospital on Monday night.
Also on board the yacht was its owner and Mr Beresford-Beardow’s half-brother Peter Greenfield, who on his Facebook page detailed how they were piloting the boat from Sydney to Melbourne.
The former Wangaratta High School student, who is now from Melbourne, also mentioned the group was planning to stop at Wilsons Promontory National Park, where they were hoping to stay a night or two and go bushwalking.
The group set out on the adventure on November 2 and the last Facebook post was on November 9.
The head of the Seaspray Foreshore Committee, John Morgan, said the choppy conditions had caused the father to overbalance and fall from the front deck of the yacht and into the water.
He said the son was quick to jump straight in after him, without success.
A mayday call was heard by workers on an oil rig and authorities were then notified.
Crews were able to rescue the son but the father was nowhere to be found.
Mr Morgan said the sea was calm on Monday morning but conditions had changed rapidly by the afternoon.
“It cut up really rough,” he said.
“The wind was blowing towards Lakes Entrance but the current was flowing in the other direction towards Port Albert.”
Mr Morgan said a third man on the yacht, the young man’s uncle, did not want to get off the yacht.
“One of our ex-members stayed on the yacht with him and they got towed to Lakes Entrance,” he said.
Greg Oakes, rear commodore of the North East Windsport Club based in Wangaratta, said it would be a sad time for the family.
Mr Oakes said while the man was unknown to the club, the sailing fraternity was in mourning.
“Having someone go overboard and then not being able to find them is the worst thing that can happen,” he said.
Police recommenced the search at first light yesterday morning with the assistance of Air Wing representatives from the Seaspray and Woodside life saving clubs and SES.
The yacht has been escorted back to Lakes Entrance for further examination.