Well-known Sydney yachting identity Andrew 'Shorty' Short is one of two people who died when his boat ran aground during a race off the NSW south coast.
Mr Short and crew member Sally Gordon were pulled from the water unconscious early on Saturday morning but couldn't be revived.
Short was the owner and skipper of the 24.4m maxi yacht Shockwave, which crashed into rocks off Flinders Islet, off the coast near Wollongong, and ran aground.
The 16 surviving crew members were rescued and taken to Wollongong hospital suffering minor injuries and hypothermia.
An investigation has begun into the incident.
The annual race is conducted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.
Club commodore Matt Allen told the ABC the deaths are a huge blow to the boating community and messages of condolence have been sent from around the world.
Mr Allen said Mr Short was a close friend of his and was a highly respected veteran of the sea.
Mr Allen has defended night racing and says the conditions were safe for sailing.