I was reading The Guardian’s story today of how ‘Yeah Baby’ was forced out of the Sydney to Hobart yatch race after a collision with a sunfish.
As crew member Louis Ryckmans describes it,
The boat was fantastic in the conditions and we were looking forward to the stronger conditions thinking that the boat is really going to perform, and we had an impact where my immediate thought, was we hit a reef – it was that powerful.
I think the name is incorrect. It’s a sun leviathan, it’s a sun monster, it’s no fish.
And I found myself returning to Anthony Lawrence’s recollection of the time he’d taken a leisurely half-hour dip in the ocean in the company (when he discovered its presence nearby) of what he took initially to be a sunfish.
‘We found our boat surrounded by a school of dolphins. There were at least fifty of them, swimming, diving all around us. They were everywhere. I couldn’t help myself, I stripped and joined them and spent an amazing half an hour in their presence. It was truly memorable.
‘Suddenly, they were gone. Just … took off, disappeared. I didn’t know what to make of it. I began shivering. Felt cold. I swam back to the boat. “Help me in Richard”. “My god mate, you’re white as a sheet, what’s the matter?” “I don’t know.”
‘But we turned to see, a little behind us, what seemed maybe the dorsal fin of a sunfish. “Let’s take a look.’ It was this great white pointer, four or five metres, just lolling there languid. As big as the boat. He wasn’t hungry, no threat at all. But I felt weak, thinking how I’d been treading water twenty-five feet away from a big white. No wonder the dolphins left, they weren’t taking any chances.’