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Friends, family mourn sailors

Mourners dropped a red rose and a bed of daisies into a river Friday in remembrance of each of the six sailors killed in the Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race.

As the rosettes bobbed in the Derwent River, the glorious summer weather could scarcely have contrasted more sharply with the howling winds and mountainous seas that ravaged the race fleet five days ago.

Of 115 yachts in the race, 70 withdrew because of the hurricane-strength winds. Rescuers saved about 50 sailors from seven damaged or sunken yachts.

About 2,000 people attended the ceremony on Constitution Dock, with many yachts that survived tied up at the dock.

The memorial service began with a fly-over of airplanes in a "missing man" formation.

Monsignor Phillip Green, speaking from a table draped by a green and gold sail, noted that for more than 50 years, Constitution Dock was a haven at the end of a race _ a place where rivalries were forgotten and friendships forged.

Bruce Guy, who died on his yacht, Business Post Naiad, gave 100 percent to life, said his daughter, Karen Guy. Phil Skeggs also was lost on Naiad.

Steve Kulmar of the Sword of Orion spoke of the dedication to sailing of his dead friend, British yachtsman Glyn Charles.

"He was a bloody good bloke," Kulmar said.

Richard Winning of the yacht Winston Churchill said he would always remember Jim Lawler, John Dean and Mike Bannister.

"The sea was so vast and the ship was so small," Winning said. "Man and everything made by man is finite."

He said he hoped the dead men's families took some comfort from knowing that they died doing something they loved. "We will learn from the tragic circumstances of your deaths," said Hugo van Kretschmar, head of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.

"We will miss you always. We will remember you always."