UPDATE: STATEMENT FROM J/BOATS:
“J/Boats have been in contact with the owner Andy Reid since the incident happened, in fact he will be in Newport soon on a scheduled trip already. We’re sorry to hear about the breakage and have already commenced our own internal review on the circumstances that may have led to the rudder post failure, working with our team of engineers, builders and materials specialists. In the meantime, our condolences to the delivery crew and hope that all are well and in good health and spirits despite the circumstances.”
We got news late last night that our most awesome Kiwi pal AJ Reid lost his new-last-year J/111 Django while on delivery back from Fiji. You’ll probably remember Django as the boat that won its first-ever race while handicapped by our own Mr. Clean aboard, and then went on to some great results in New Zealand and then last week’s reported finish from the Fiji Race. Here’s a note we got from crew coordinator and Doyle NZ sailmaker Andy Pilcher late last night, and you can discuss the J/111 over in the thread:
For those that haven’t heard, I’m sorry to announce that Django Racing has been abandoned about 300 miles North of Auckland, on her way home from Fiji. At approx 11:00am NZ Time this morning, in winds averaging over 50 knots and seas over 5 meters, the rudder stock snapped between the two bearings, leaving the rudder swinging underneath the boat, trying to rip itself free.
The delivery crew sent out a request for assistance and set the liferaft up for immediate deployment, keeping in touch with Maritime Operations throughout the day via Satellite phone. An Airforce P-3 Orion came by the boat to do a flyover, and fortunately, NZ Navy Frigate Otago was in the region. The Navy reached Django around 6 PM on Monday evening, when the crew made a hairy but successful transfer via lifeboat onto the Frigate.
We have spoken to the crew and they’re safe and well, albeit very relieved and a bit shaken. I suspect that the reality of the situation may not have set it yet for them. Delivery skipper Ben Costello along with Bex Heilkema and Andrew Cooke all responded exceptionally well, and did everything they could have done in the most seamanlike manner. The boat was still floating when they transferred onto the frigate, and the rudder had not yet sheared off. But with large cracks appearing around the area of the bottom bearings at the time of rescue and more gales and big seas forecast, we don’t know how long she will last.
Otago is heading directly back to Auckland and we expect the crew to be safely back on land shortly. That’s all we know for now, we just wanted to let everyone know the facts as they currently stand.
Thanks for your thoughts and wishes,
July 8th, 2014