A member of the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria at Williamstown has died during a prestigious annual event held in gusty conditions on Port Phillip Bay.

Crew members from other yachts scrambled to save Max Peters, after he fell overboard in rough seas and strong winds on Sunday.

Sandringham Yacht Club had been hosting the four-race Association Cup interclub event.

Mr Peters, aged in his 70s and from Donvale, fell from his Adams 10 class yacht Top Gun during the first race.

The Royal Yacht Club of Victoria and Sandringham Yacht Club released a joint statement on Monday.

They said it was understood Top Gun broached while sailing downwind, which led to Mr Peters falling overboard.

“Our sincere appreciation goes to all the people who assisted with the rescue effort,” the statement said.

“At this time our thoughts are foremost for Max who was known as a true gentleman of our sport.

“Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family, crew and friends.”

Sailing journalist Peter Campbell said on mysailing.com.au seas were rough on the bay, up to 2.5 metres and winds were gusting well over 30 knots when the accident occurred.

A yacht broaches when it suddenly heads into the wind, and its rudder is unable to compensate for the move. This can lead to the yacht tipping.

Several sailing events in the bay were called off on Sunday after the Bureau of Meteorology issued a strong wind warning.

But the Association Cup’s first race went ahead at 11am after the bureau downgraded its overnight gale warning, Mr Campbell said.

Under yacht-racing rules, the event would not have gone ahead had the gale warning remained in force, he said.

The skipper of another yacht told Mr Campbell they were surprised the committee started racing in the conditions.

“Overall, the wind had eased somewhat but there were some big gusts coming through and there were still big waves,” the skipper told mysailing.com.au.

The Association Cup is an inter-Club event that is run on an annual basis.
Eighteen yacht from three clubs were competing in the event, in the waters between

Brighton and Sandringham.

Police will prepare a report for the Coroner.