This one might be a challenge…
August 23rd, 2012
We featured Red Herring a couple of days ago and were stoked to see that Anarchist Steve Clark. Here’s what he posted…
Red Herring is my boat!
She was built in 1980 by Goetz Custom (Hull 22) and was the last "solid wood" boat they built.
She is cold mold cedar on stringers and frames.
The keel can be canted and lifted, but not at the same time.
She is 55′long, 8’3" wide and weighs 9500 lbs.
Those of you keeping score at home will recognize that this gives her a displacement length ratio of about 27, which isn’t just light, it’s super fucking light.
She draws 9′ with the keel down and 6′ with it pulled up.
We leave it down most of the time.
The keel can be canted 35 degrees, this is done with hydraulics driven by an electric pump with two huge gel cell bater8es. We can sail for just over 24 hours before recharging.
Fastest we have ever gone is 20 knots. It was 0DARK30 during a Solo/Twin when Lars said "Too bad we can’t do this when it’s light." I replied," If we could see, we would be too frightened and would stop."
Red Herring was designed by David Hubbard. The concept was all Van Alan Clark Jr. He got the germ of the idea from L. Francis Herreshoff’s "sailing machine" in the Common Sense of yacht design, but quickly identified the flaws in Herreshoff’s proposal and identified a way to address it. As Dave succinctly put it: to segregate the righting moment and lateral resistance functions of the keel into two appendages. Thus she has a strut with ballast on it to keep her upright and a daggerboard to keep her from sliding sideways.
When I was a kid, Dad and I talked about boats all the time. When you have a number of kids ( I’m #4 of 6) you have special things you share with each kid. I was Dad’s "boat kid." He drew on the back of paper place mats at Howard Johnson’s when we were stopping for a hot dog. As often as not, it as something that would eventually turn into Red Herring. When I brought home my first International Canoe, he went for a short sail and said "That’s it. I’m building the skinny boat."
As originally launched she was a cat ketch with rotating masts and fully battened sails. She had two two centerboards a keel and a rudder. Keel canting was done by winches attached to massive 6:1 block and tackles, and she really didn’t work so well. Unfortunately my dad died in 1983 so he never really got to do much in terms of refining the concept. We knew it worked, but really didn’t know how well. After Dad died, Dave had her for a few years, and I took possession sometime around 1988. I have been nibbling away at it ever since.
I redesigned the sail plan. Moved the main aft 30" to bring jibs aboard, and a mast head asymmetrical. After a very loud and expensive noise, had GMT make some very nice light carbon masts to replace the heavy aluminum rotating spars.
Next I decided the centerboards were too small, and so installed a deep canard daggerboard. The keel was originally a wood/ composite blade with a fairly low aspect ratio bulb, when I decided I didn’t trust it anymore, I had Duncan MacLane and Paul Bogatai design a good one that was machined out of steel with a modern looking bulb. Finally this year, the rudder was upgraded from something that looked OK in the 1970s to a deeper hotter shit blade with a carbon [post that weighs about 1/2 of what the old blade did.
On board accommodation has never been a big feature of the Red Herring experience. Her cross section is a bit smaller than a J24, so that’s about what you get, stretched out a bit. There is a head with a door, but if you are my size, it’s a challenge to wipe with the door closed. On the other hand, there is a stove with an oven, which makes hot coffee cake and danishes possible, which is about as civilized as it gets. You cannot stand up in the saloon except in the hatch. There is a nice aft berth under the mizzen, but you can’t sit up anywhere except under the hatch. Ezra Smith and I designed some sea hoods this year to make her a bit more habitable in the rain and Blizo and the team at Aquidneck Custom did a wonderful job of fabricating them as well as the new coamings that make it all work as part of our 30 year refit.
On Friday she was sliding along very nicely until the jib blew up. Which means that sailed most of the long beat with the Spandex 130. Not really a jib that goes upwind very well, being too big for the breeze and too stretchy and impossible to sheet in all the way because of the cap shrouds. But what the hell, there are lots worse ways to spend TGIF time.
Red Herring is more of a reaching monster than an upwind device. Usually 40′ sloops kick us around uphill, but we get them back the second we can start the sheets a bit. If the wind goes further aft, and we have to really run square, we get crushed again. The only races that are any fun on this boat are ones where there are opportunities for odd angles that modern racing sloops aren’t optimal for. Herring has a PHRF rating of -3. On balance I would say that is fair, Once I do the next round of sails, it will probably be lower. I don’t really care, the only reason to have a rating is so I can see if any of the changes we make are making the boat faster or slower, and the only way to do that is to race it now and then.
So yeah, she was way ahead of her time, but has been eclipsed by the modern canting keel boats. On the other hand, Dad thought this was the better formula for sailboats, and the performance of the Volvo 70s and others simply confirms that he sure was right about that.
Sailing her is one way I remember my old man. Jump in the discussion if you like.
August 23rd, 2012
Last week we had the second event of Mitsubishi Sailing Cup for the S40 class,in Búzios, Brazil. Again the 12 girls of Pajero Sailing Team were there and did a great job on the water! Here is one pic of our team. Thanks Sailing Anarchy!
August 23rd, 2012
cause and effect
2012 Japan Cup
I spent last week sailing in the 2012 Japan Cup hosted by the Laguna Marina Yacht Club located about an hour’s drive south of Nagoya. I was invited along by Andy Pilcher from Doyle Sails NZ and Nagata-san, owner of the Beneteau First 40 “Kofu” to help out in the tacticians department. The fleet was tightly packed and included a new Ker 40, a Soto 40, a mix of Beneteau’s, a King 40, Mumm 36, Farr 40’s, an ILC 40 and a J/V 35. The Japan Cup is Japan’s IRC championship.
We hit the ground running with a quick practice day and then straight into the racing. The format was two days of W/L’s followed by a 120 mile coastal race and then one more day of W/L’s. The first two days were sailed in mostly light and shifty conditions, with lots of lead changes along the way. The highly modified Beneteau 40.7 “Summer Girl” found the conditions favourable and had a five point lead over the King 40 “Karasu” going into the long race. On “Kofu”, we found the light conditions challenging and were looking forward to the 15 to 25 knots forecast for the long race. The race counted for double points, so there was a lot on the line.
Fortunately, the forecast was spot on. The wind built steadily from the 9am start towards the 25 knots predicted. The race course was anything but ordinary. It was a 60 mile beat along the coast, through a narrow pass to a turning mark and back. Just to make things interesting, the commercial traffic entering and leaving the Nagoya area resembled the Auckland southern motorway at rush hour, the area is littered with submerged and partially submerged rocks, and there are fields of unmarked fishing nets. An all-around sailing challenge!
The Ker 40 “Gust” stretched her legs and led the way around including a handicap win. She was followed by the King 40 “Karasu” and the Soto 40 “Papillion” on line and handicap. Our good race turned pear shaped with the help of two park ups in the last 20 miles. Not good! The race took its toll with two boats hitting rocks, a broken main halyard, and a man overboard (and quick recovery) on regatta leader “Summer Girl”. ”Karasu’s” second place pulled her to only one point behind regatta leader “Summer Girl”. Game on!
The last day of racing saw 8 to 12 knots of breeze and perfectly set courses. With three bullets, “Summer Girl” owned the day, and the 2012 Japan Cup title! “Karasu” was runner up, and with her strong result in the long race, “Gust” was third. Thanks to great starting by our helmsman Takagi-san and some sharp crew work, “Kofu” had a solid day and scrambled back up to a fourth place finish overall.
The event and race management, both on and off the water was fantastic. The racing was hard fought and was followed by plenty of chatter and laughs ashore. Good times.
Readers may recall from last year the Sail for Smiles – Japan as One charity that was set up after the devastating earthquake and tsunami. It is aimed at helping Japan’s sailors get back on the water. I caught up with the gentleman who established and heads the charity. He reports that fundraising continues, and the focus is on getting young sailors back in their boats and sailing. He was very appreciative of the support received from the sailing community and the power of Sailing Anarchy in getting the word out. A very worthy effort.
Finally, as a connoisseur of fine beers (OK, any beer), sailing in Japan is a real treat. Not only do they have some great brews, but they have vending machines everywhere selling them. Airports, hotels, on the street, they are everywhere. What a concept! Andy and I did everything we could to empty these machines, but there were just too many. We will have to try harder next time……
While Andy headed off to Russia to sail with more clients, I returned home to Tauranga NZ arriving Friday afternoon. With some sleep, a shower and clean clothes, I headed back to Auckland Saturday to race the RNZYS Winter Series with more of the Doyle Sails NZ guys and the crack crew aboard David Nathan’s canting keel TP52 “V5”.
One very lucky guy – living the dream!
Back to work tomorrow………
August 23rd, 2012
The Juan K Artemis AC72 hit the water in San Fran today, but just for a trip from the freighter over to Alameda, and she certainly has a different look than ETNZ’s first shot at a challenger. We like saying Sander Van Der Borch’s name almost as much as we like checking out his pics (also credited to Artemis Racing), and here’s the first of many likely over the next few weeks as Artemis starts playing on the Bay. Oracle’s will launch next week…let the games begin. Plenty more pics and tons of discussion in the Artemis thread.
August 22nd, 2012
Today the VOR saw the first big dividends from its decision to go the one-design route, and in an unexpected direction: Hull number 1 has just been ordered for an all-girl crew! That’s something that the Volvo 70 never saw; in fact in the three VO-70 editions of the race just one woman – all-star navigator Adrienne Calahan – ever competed, and that was only for a leg or two.
Swedish paper, diaper, bio fuel, and feminine hygiene product conglomerate SCA is the one pulling the trigger, and with 80% of their products’ customers being female and the company’s huge investment in green energy and environmental sustainability, it’s a no-brainer. The program will be managed by the same brains behind Ericsson’s powerful performance in 2008-9, while the team will get two more crew members than an all-male team as part of the VOR rules encouraging all-female crews. We’re digging the faux-wood look on the press release model boat; let’s hope they keep the station wagon look for the real deal.
Talk about the entries for the 2014-5 race here.
August 22nd, 2012
We all know that conventional TV will never be the go-to place for sailing vids, but the 3 minute highlight reels that we love so much are often just…unsatisfying. So here are a few longer pieces that just beg you to plug your trusty laptop into the 50” LCD hanging on the wall of your living room – even if you need to turn the volume off occasionally.
Clean’s long-awaited 42-minute chat with Star Gold Medalist Freddy Lööf and coach Mark Ivey is a great one, and not just because these are two of the most genuine guys in the sport. Loof digs into what it means to be your country’s sole gold medalist in any sport and how you can spend 24 years of your life in single-minded pursuit of a goal, while Ivey goes into detail on the hows and whys of his crushing departure from the US Sailing Team, on the typical day in the life of a gold medal coach in Weymouth, on how he was treated by the King and Queen of Sweden, and just where he sees the US Sailing Team now and in the future. They also touch on the future of the Star boat and what both victorious sailors plan for the months to come.
the moth squad
This one may be a few months old, but the 2012 Aussie Moth Nationals were still the most recent big Moth regatta before this week’s Worlds in Campione, Italy. And given that 7 of the top 10 mothies in the world right now are Ozzies, you’re probably looking at most of the podium in this well-produced 25 minute show from Mornington, near Melbourne, back in May.
the full monty
This isn’t the kind of revelatory documentary from the 2012 VOR that we still hope to see at some point, but it is an hour and change summing up the entire saga of the closest Volvo Ocean Race in the decades-long history of the most famous ocean event in our sport. If you paid close attention to the event you’ll learn nothing new, and you’ll have to suffer through a bit of excessive narration by Martin the Brundlefish, though there’s enough never-before-seen 1080p stuff that is some of the most beautiful imagery we’ve ever seen of ocean racing.
The America’s Cup World Series has become something of a borefest of late, the big cuts in both volume and quality of the on-line broadcasts and a constantly shifting event format making it tough to know what’s going on, and even tougher to care. But this week’s action in San Francisco might just have a cure for what ails the biggest show in sailing; already three boats have crashed and burned while training in San Francisco, and with summer temps in the mountains nice and juicy, we can expect more of the same on the breezy Bay. This 23 minute video re-introduces you to the teams that will be in action this week, and reminds us all that announcer Gary Jobson needed to hang up his microphone about 5 years ago.
August 22nd, 2012
Ship propeller manufacturer Berg Propulsion is a big supporter of sailing; not only did they drop millions on the Puma program, but they are also a big supporter of the Swedish Olympic sailing team. They also bought themselves a pretty cool present for the 100th anniversary of the company last month; a brand new carbo-licious Marstrom M32 cat that is already serving as a corporate morale and hospitality tool, and it’s parked next to Mar Mostro near the company’s campus on Sweden’s rocky and beautiful West coast.
Last weekend they hosted Olympic Gold medalists Freddy Lööf and Max Salminen along with coach Mark Ivey and navigator Mikael Björndal aboard the M32 Powered By Berg, and the stars of the Star class unsurprisingly pushed things hard enough to go into a full forward roll in 25 knots of breeze. The boat and sailors were unharmed, but we’re told they couldn’t stop laughing.
Stay tuned for our one-hour video Innerview with Mark and Freddy, which we expect to post tomorrow night if Clean can figure out how to turn on his computer.
August 21st, 2012
Proving without a doubt that he can simply never get enough, DC has bought the J/105 Pholly in order to race in the 105 NA’s to be held here in Dago in October. Dennis told us that he "has never stepped foot in the boat so it should be interesting" and thinks that the class is "licking their chops" for a chance to beat him, but we think it is quite the opposite! We’d guess all eyes will be on DC, and rightly so. The boat he bought has is "pre-scrimp", always been regarded as quick, and given his meticulous preparation, abilities and experience, we’d put our money on DC.
August 21st, 2012
Last weekend we had this great race here in Brasília, Brazil. The host club is the Clube da Aeronáutica (Air Force Club) and every year they provide us with amazing shots like this one! Anarchist Felipe. Title thanks to Eric Burdon and the Animals.
August 21st, 2012
As the Moth Worlds gets underway on Lake Garda, we take a quick look at who’s got it and who don’t in the baddest singlehanders on Earth.
The Track Garda’s ‘twin winds’ have been blowing well this month, with the morning “Peler” wind blowing down off the mountains at around 15 knots. The Peler chills the lake down and provides decent small chop, and usually allows one race before it dies off before 11 AM. The fleet heads in for espressos for two hours, returning to sail in the livelier “Ora” Southerly, which can reach 20 knots or more against the sheer rock face near Campione.
The one-way track keeps the fleet up against the 500-foot Western wall, sailing in 5-10 knots more breeze than out in the lake. This means boathandling is at a premium; staying on the foils on tacks and gybes can mean a huge lead against those more inclined to splash down during maneuvers, and it takes 10-12 tacks on every beat to stay in front of the fleet. Equally as important is the ability to anticipate what traffic is doing and make lightning-fast decisions; 120 moths compressed into a 500-foot sliver of lake, sailing upwind and down, means serious collisions are inevitable, and in fact there’s already been at least one good mashup during training, which served as a pre-Worlds.
Campione is also loaded with divers, kiteboarders, and is the de facto kiteboarding center of Garda, and over the course of training and the Italian Nationals, already a half-dozen kites have found their way around Moth rigs. It is certainly not boring!
The Challengers With 2011 World Champ Nathan Outerridge otherwise engaged, the field is wide open. So who’s gonna take home that massive silver cup? The easy answer is this: Whoever can stick 95% of their foiling tacks and foiling gybes, because that is what it will take. The guys who will stand on the podium are nearly never off their foils; wasn’t it just a few years ago that a foiling gybe was the realm of the superstar? It really is amazing progress in the world’s coolest development class.
Here’s our pick for top 5, in no particular order:
Scott Babbage (AUS) has no shortage of moth skills, and he’s been in the class since the foils took hold. He is the professor of preparation, and being on the lighter side of the group, has the ability to do a horizon job when Garda throws the inevitable lighter curveballs at the fleet. Babbage did just this during pre-Worlds, rolling a 2,2,2 to win the event, and he was third in last year’s Worlds in Belmont.
Simon Payne (GBR) has won this thing before, and with a simple set-up on his sexy Abarth-branded boat, Si has more time to spend on boathandling and accident avoidance and less on tweaking lines and settings. Also a lightweight, Simon has speed in almost all conditions, though he tends to tire out before some of the younger cats. England’s top hope in what will inevitably be an Aussie-dominated top ten.
Joe “Mothman” Turner (AUS) is the clown of the bunch, but no one’s laughing when he blows by them on the course. Turner thrives when the breeze is on, and he’s got a fully loose attitude that could do him well when the pressure gets to some of the others. Turner was runner-up to Outerridge last year.
Rob Gough (AUS) threw his Mach 2 in the box in Tasmania to ship to Italy, but something happened in the wormhole and out came a mountain bike with a sail and foils. His boat has hydraulics, gear shifters and loads of other bells and whistles. Looks like he is going the route of easy tacking with big foils but that has a hefty tax on top end speed. But maybe he has a gadget that will overcome that – everyone is playing their tinkering a little close to the bone at the moment, but time will tell. Gough is big and powerful in the breeze.
Bora Gulari (USA) has been a bit busy of late, skippering the Great Lakes-based TP-52 Natalie J to Mackinac wins and running an unsuccessful challenge for the Melges 24 Worlds just two weeks ago on this same lake. But he’s still the same hard-charging mothie he’s been since opening his first box of carbon tinker toy, and when the boathandling gets rough, he can lean on those thousands of hours of obsessive training to help get him through.
Some faces to watch:
- Brad Funk: Has enough sailing skills and speed to help a small nation
- Josh McKnight: The young Aussie has speed to burn when it gets windy.
- Chris Rashley – Euro Champ and UK Nationals Champ, and the top non-Mach 2 performer on a British “Exocet” design.
- Anthony Kotoun – First time sailing a Moth Worlds, but the US dealer for the Mach 2 has a lot of time in the boat, and multiple World Championships in other classes to give him fortitude.
- Andrew “Amac” McDougall – the Mach 2 designer and driver behind the success of the Moth, he’s got more strings on his boat than the philharmonic. Major speed and smarts, and one of the fittest old guys you’ll meet.
- Rob Greenhalgh – The Volvo stud and former 18-foot and I-14 World Champ is sailing his first Moth regatta, but if anyone can get up to speed quickly, this guy is the one.
The Tech While the dominance of the Mach 2 might make you think this is a one-design event, it’s anything but, and no two moths are alike. Here are a few things we found interesting:
Rob Gough cants his rig to leeward using hydraulics, allowing him to get his rig vertical when heeled to windward the way a moth sails upwind.
While ride-height adjusters have been necessary for a year or two, the ratio of the wand’s movement to the flap’s response requires turning a screw in the system and locking it down with a nut. Until now, because both Rob Gough and Amac have created on-the-fly wand ratio adjusters that should allow them to get their boats to fly smoother and with less drag when conditions change; Gough’s uses a mountain bike gear shifter and Amac’s, a string-and-bobbin.
Amac has a line nicknamed the ‘god string’, because it does everything he needs to go from downwind to upwind mode with one pull. Pull on it and the vang gets hard, the outhaul comes on, the shrouds loosen, and the rig rakes back. Let it go at the top mark and the opposite happens.
Amac loves tinkering with the underwater bits, and he’s running new rudder horizontals that have been compared to the wings on a Klingon Bird of Prey. They will no doubt be fast if they are dialed in properly, but that may take some time.
This being one of the true tinkerers’ classes there are bound to be a pile of new toys, and we’ll have more when the week is over.
August 21st, 2012
This is one hell of a summer vacation: This year my wife and my 3 boys went a 3 months trip on our 57 footer to the Tuamotus (French Polynesia). It was awesome! Anarchist Frederic.
August 21st, 2012
I am a Brit who has lived in the US now for 35 years. My son sailed some and made the US Junior nationals in Laser but got too big and Finns are hard in Atlanta GA. He is now in College BUT can’t sail because at ~6′ 4" and 240# can’t race the kid’s boats college sailing is stuck with.
My main comment is that: in the US Sailboat racing is seen as a "fringe" sport or a sport for the rich. In the UK (and Europe) as mentioned in the article form the other day that is not the case. Racing sailboats in the UK is a major sport. Also it i=s mainly small boats (dinghies). Most kids get to college in the US, graduate and go to big boats. Then their kids are brought up on bigger boats, Opti fleets not withstanding.
Also in Europe the Opti’s belong to the clubs. But local businesses sponsor the fleets and every boat has a sponsor logo. Helps lower costs etc.
Coaching is another story. I feel there is lot’s of grass roots help, but US sailing doesn’t do enough to encourage teaching, particularity if you don’t live in Florida, California or New England. If you sail inland you are stuck, and the fringe issue is even greater.
I don’t see a quick fix for this. I believe Dean Brenner has done well with what he has. Some observations:
We need more grass roots coaching and local funding.
Higher performance boats in club racing, too many efforts to make "sport boats" with keels for God’s sake.
Higher performance boats for college (may be too late that point)
More promoting of sailing in the sports press (Gary Jobson has been doing this alone for too long).
Also i have an issue with the boats in the Olympics going for smaller lighter crews. Kids over 180# will NEVER get to sail. We now only have the Finn and it may be gone soon
Obviously not a simple fix here in the US
August 21st, 2012
Racing in Campione on Lake Garda for the Moth Worlds means tacking and gybing just inches from the rock wall, but it also means you get to check out some of the naked talent sunbathing on the tiny little beaches dotted along the shoreline. Sometimes that is sweet, and sometimes not; in this shot, Thierry Martinez catches GBR sailor Tom Offer as he literally gets knocked off his foils by a generous eyeful of Italian cock and balls. Offer reportedly headed to the beach to wash his eyes out with bleach. More Martinez photos here.
August 20th, 2012
not that insane
Wired magazine has a great piece on Larry Ellison’s technological vision for the AC. Doesn’t seem insane at all, actually. Read the entire piece, it’s a really interesting look at Stan Honey’s tech history and AC involvement as well..
From a helicopter hovering at 1,200 feet, the city of Venice looks like a dusty labyrinth. Red tile rooftops crowd together in heaps. The canals that slice the city into micro-islands glow a milky green. Contrasting sharply with this ancient landscape is a futuristic fleet of nine enormous wing-sailed catamarans flitting across the waterfront just off St. Mark’s Square. Their sharp, carbon-fiber minimalism crackles against Venice’s faded elegance, like an iPhone clutched by the Queen of England.
The racing cats skate and jockey for position just upwind of the mega-yacht Musashi, a mother ship of sorts. Owned by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, the Musashi isn’t quite as big as the World War II-era Japanese naval vessel of the same name, but at 288 feet she’s as long as a city block. And, at five stories high, Musashi is actually taller than the seaside hotel she’s docked in front of. Ellison’s toy is half battleship, half wedding cake: layer upon layer of aluminum and glass baked in a gleaming white hull. From above we can see the retractable roof of a below-deck helipad, which doubles as a basketball court. Somewhere on board is the ultimate prize in sailboat racing: the 4-foot-tall, 33-pound, sterling-silver America’s Cup trophy.
The America’s Cup World Series is the circus Ellison has brought to town, and he himself is the ringmaster. It is a warm-up to the America’s Cup match, the one-on-one winner-take-all main event. Ellison won the Cup in 2010, and as long as he holds the trophy, he controls the event and its future. The World Series is Ellison’s particular stamp, designed to build excitement and anticipation for the finale. Here in Venice, the racecourse winds along the city’s waterfront before crossing a checkered flag near the mouth of the Grand Canal. The Musashi has a front-row seat. Read on.
August 20th, 2012
alone (in the dark)
There has been a fair bit of discussion about the sinking of the Sonoma 30 Cowabunga off Hawaii, and below is the story from Mike Hanson who was one of the crew during this harrowing incident. There are many lessons to be learned here…
It was a half hour past midnight when we noticed the boat was filling up. We had heard water sloshing around in the cabin, and when we shined our flashlights below, it was already about eighteen inches deep. We fumbled for a few minutes trying to manually remove the water with the hand-operated bilge pump, but we soon realized this was no ordinary leak. It was blowing 18 knots with five foot seas in the middle of the Kauai channel, and our ship was sinking.
Kenith Scott was on the helm at the time, and he immediately told everyone to unclip from the safety harnesses that attached us to the boat. Zach Denzer, who’s dad Mark owned the boat, dashed below to get life jackets and the radio. He got on channel 16 to notify the Coast Guard that we were taking on water, and also activated our Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) while the rest of the crew dawned life jackets. Zach then grabbed a bucket and began bailing the water out of the cabin. I took the helm from Kenith, who joined Zach below. They bailed for several minutes, but the water was coming in faster than they could empty it. I shined my flashlight into the pitch black cabin to aid their efforts. Random pieces of gear were floating in the water, which was now up to their knees. Abandoning the thought of isolating the source of the leak, our situation had become frantic. We called in the May Day.
Jamile Qureshi, a merchant marine who we brought aboard as our navigator, handled the radio communication with the Coast Guard. He had the littlest sailing experience of the entire crew, as this was his first major racing venture. Despite his lack of actual sailing experience, he demonstrated his maritime ability as he deftly handled the radio communication with the Coast Guard, staying in constant contact, using the hand held GPS to update them with our exact coordinates every ten minutes or so. There was also a second, personal EPIRB, which we activated and wrapped around the wrist of Bree Nidds, one of the two female members of our crew.
Tate Wester began shooting off flares, which sparked upon ignition, but failed to light up the night sky. There was a forty-footer about ten miles ahead of us, and if we were able to signal them, maybe they could assist us. Yet the sky remained dark as our flares failed, and we knew our sole hope was a Coast Guard rescue.
Despite the intensity of the situation—the swell beating at the side of the boat, the failing flares, the water rising in the bottom of the cockpit, the steady communication with the Coast Guard kept us fairly collected. There was some initial panic when we realized we were sinking in the middle of the channel, but we clung to each radio transmission, a sure sign that we were going to be alright.
In the meantime, I trimmed the mainsail to keep us into the wind. The boat was filling up fast now and the last thing we wanted was a capsize. We all agreed that if we ended up having to ditch the boat, it would be pivotal to stay together. We readied lines to tie to each other, and gathered the most important gear. We had two EPIRBS, a hand-held VHF radio, a hand-held GPS, a strobe-light, a bag of life jackets to hold on to, and a large water cooler with several waters and Gatorades. It didn’t even cross our minds to salvage cell phones or wallets—mere trifles in such a circumstance.
By now the crew members had taken shifts down below bailing out water, and eventually getting sea-sick. I tried to steady the boat, but as we sank lower and lower, the steering became more unstable. Water began to flood over the transom and into the cabin.
Quite honestly, I was in a daze most of the time, as I had already thrown up from sea sickness before the boat even began to sink. But there was a moment when I looked away from the crew, over my shoulder at the black ocean and the waves lapping and asked myself if this would be the way it all would end. I kept this to myself, and was brought back to the crew by the voice of Kenith, who assured us to all stay calm, as the Coast Guard had just deployed a rescue helicopter from Barber’s Point on Oahu.
By now waves were crashing directly into the cabin, and we knew the boat was going down fast. When the side stays were underwater, we all dipped off the transom, kicking ourselves as far away from the boat as possible.
We watched it drift away from us. It sank straight down, never leaning to one side or the other. The water was over the entire cabin top, and eventually the spreaders, until all that was left was the mast-head-light glistening against the black night sky. It dipped down below the surface, and we were left in complete darkness, huddled together in the middle of the ocean, thirty miles away from land.
From here, minutes went by like hours. Jamile notified the Coast Guard that the ship had sank, and that we were now adrift at sea. He was still able to relay our coordinates, holding the VHF and GPS above the water. They told us it would be about a half hour before they would reach us. All we could do was wait.
Every little light in the sky seemed like rescue. We saw planes, shooting stars, distant lights from shore, all of which raised our hopes to the highest exaltation, only to let us plummet down as the helicopter failed to materialize.
At this point, Kenith, a veteran of the Iraq War, said something I will never forget. “Man, I fought a war, and this is about the hairiest situation I have ever been in.” We all said a little prayer to ourselves, trying to fight off the thought of sharks, or whether or not the helicopter would find us, and just clung to each other, waiting.
About twenty minutes later we saw a headlight on the horizon. It was coming towards us. We heard the thunder from the helicopter blades low over the water. A Coast Guard chopper flew directly overhead, shining their search light down on us, and eventually even passing us. There was a little panic as we thought they had missed us. Jamile even radioed in to tell them, but the Coast Guard station assured us that we had been spotted, and the helicopter was just making an approach on our position.
Minutes later the chopper approached from leeward, deploying a rescue swimmer. I wanted to watch every move they made, but the water from the blades shot up from the waves like needles. The diver swam up to us, asking if anyone was injured, assessing the state of each member of the crew. At this point I became sick again, though the fact that we were being rescued should have revitalized me, I was dry-heaving when the diver swam up to us.
He told us that four of us were to be airlifted out on the helicopter, while three would have to stay back in a life raft. First to be airlifted was Lani Johnson, the other female member of our crew, then myself, as I was in probably the roughest shape of anyone, then Bree, and then Tate.
The rescue swimmer brought me over to the dangling rescue cage, placed me in, and told me to sit on my hands to keep them from banging against the helicopter. I was winched up to safety, swaying back and froth in the wind as the cage rose higher. One of the crew members brought me into the cabin where Lani awaited. We immediately hugged and watched the cage go back down for Bree, and then again for Tate. They deployed a life raft for the three other members of our crew and the rescue swimmer. From the helicopter, I could see the strobe light bouncing around in the waves below.
With the life-raft deployed we turned around and headed for Lihue. I sat by the window and looked up at the stars over the ocean. I looked at the faces of the members of our crew, all of us in shock. And as much as I wanted to tell them how much I cared for them and how glad I was to be alive, the motor from the helicopter drowned out any form of verbal communication. That was the loneliest part of the night for me, being so close to my friends, but unable to tell them how happy I was that we made it through.
Eventually we landed back on Kauai, where we were escorted to the fire station, and eventually to the Coast Guard station where we met up with the other three members of our crew. After some logistical issues of not being able to buy flights or board the planes without identification or proper foot wear, we made it back to Oahu on an afternoon flight. We were met with T.V. cameras and reporters at the airport. We smiled for the cameras and took our interviews, watching every day people walk by on the way to their flights, some staring at us awkwardly, others oblivious.
Days earlier, our crew was briefed by Zach’s dad on all of the safety equipment on the boat. He showed us how to operate the two EPIRBS, the VHF, the GPS, the life jackets and safety harnesses. All of the batteries were replaced in our equipment, new rigging was put on the boat, all the screws were tightened and every piece of gear accounted for. We were as prepared as we could have been for what we went through, and though it never crossed our minds that we might have to abandon ship, I am proud of every member of the crew for how they handled the situation. Bree Nidds is 20 years old. I am 21. Tate Wester is 22. Lani Johnson and Zach Denzer are 23. Kenith Scott is 26, and Jamile Qureshi is 35. We were by far the youngest crew sailing back that night, but no one freaked out, everyone stuck together, and we made it through the night.
I have learned many things from racing sailboats. I have learned how to make decisions, prioritize my actions, adapt to shifts both on the water and in my life. I have learned that sometimes you’re up and other times you’re down, and it is always crucial to focus on the task at hand. I have never in my experience, however, thought that sailing would teach me to cope with the threat of death. There is nothing that can prepare you for that. And had our EPIRB’s failed, or had our VHF batteries been dead, it could have been a very different story.
The steps you take to prepare yourself for a sailing venture, however threatening or non threatening you think it may be, could very well save your life when a situation becomes dire. As long as you don’t let that situation get away from you, and remain confident in the steps you have taken to prepare, nothing should stop you from casting off and sailing into that horizon.
Dinasaur jr. provides a rather fitting song for the ttitle inspiration on this one.
August 20th, 2012
We dig the modern look of the brand ass new all carbon, Nigel Irens designed Gunboat 60.
Very slick. Push button centerboards and mainsail controls. We know it’s popular, but we’re not sure we dig the inside steering. If we were doing it, we’d design it with outside and inside steering, but that’s just us….Check out everything here, including interior shots.
August 20th, 2012
go pro son
Regarding our USA sailors, I couldn’t agree more with Coach Bardes comments. The state of our Optimist sailing is strong. I spent 5 years with my son traveling across the USA and abroad so that he could compete at the highest level for his age. But….I also spent thousands upon thousands of dollars to keep him competitive(a small budget compared to the $50k to $100k some families spent during Opti careers for trophies). Private coaching, a new boat, new sails, new equipment, gear, airfare, accommodations, rental cars, dining etc…was it worth it? Yes,it is my passion and my sons’ only sport and he climbed close to the top(and learned about Economics!) Today he is very competitive in the Laser class. Now what? Spend tens of thousands so that he might get a shot, if I lobby hard enough, to join an Olympic development team. After that I can then spend an equivalent of an Ivy league education to get him a shot at the Olympics. Therein lies a problem with US sailing.
For many talented young sailors the Olympic dream ends early, beat by economics. If you are fortunate enough to make it to an Olympic campaign you can build a web site, get sponsored, borrow, fundraise, beg, and tap into that family money tree! You will need it all for that $100k or more a year (times 3) Olympic campaign budget. Do all this AND concentrate on your racing and sailing skills. We all know that sailboat racing in the USA is a niche sport unlike NZ or AUS where it is an equivalent to our national past time. But it is also the answer to a trivial pursuit question about the most expensive sport in the world. We have individuals flying and transporting their racing yachts and crew all over the world to satisfy their passion. America’s Cup! Don’t get me started. My ego would be stroked and happy if I could restore the USA to podium positions at the next Olympics. Yes, funding is only part of the problem but it makes life easier for our athletes and opens opportunities for those less fortunate.
During the closing ceremonies of the Olympics, my son looked over at me and with a seriousness seldom heard from him said "dad, how do I get to the Olympics?" I thought for a moment and started rambling on about body size, weight, the right boat, training hard, fundraising, etc. Then I found my answer on the side of an object on the coffee table. GO PRO son. GO PRO…
August 20th, 2012
The Ker 40 Catapult on it’s way to the elapsed and IRC win in the 122 mile Ida Lewis Distance Race
August 20th, 2012
What a cool looking boat! the 55′ ketch Red Herring at the start of the Ida Lewis Yacht Club Distance Race in Newport, RI from our friend mstrsail.
August 18th, 2012