Posts Tagged ‘crash’
Pat Rynne’s Waterlust videos have brought some of the most beautiful parts of our sport to the world over the past few years, and we’re lucky to call him a friend and occasional co-conspirator. Few understand just how far Pat goes to pursue his passion, but an incident last week puts it all into perspective. Our thoughts go out to Pat’s partner Fiona (who just underwent surgery and is in recovery) and the rest of their injured crew. You can share your support over here.
Last Saturday while filming in Iceland, our amazing team of Fiona Graham, Laura Graham, Jennah Caster, Jenny Adler, Greg Owen and myself were involved in a motor vehicle accident. We were driving on a straight and paved road along the coast in the western part of the country and were hit by an extremely strong gust of wind deemed a ‘microburst.’ The force of the wind powerfully flipped our 6-person caravan off the road into a nearby marshland. We were driving slowly, at around 25mph at the time of the accident. We had been monitoring the weather throughout the morning and had not experienced winds that impaired our driving ability until this moment.
The camper did at least one full rotation and came to rest right side up off the road. The wind in this gust was blowing by my estimates in excess of 70 knots, tearing the camper structure off the frame of the car and blowing it out to sea. This is why the crash site appears like a high speed crash with such high levels of destruction. From what I can tell, the wind was accelerating through a small topographic feature that created the gust. I can’t be certain, this is just my assessment.
Immediately after the accident it was unclear who was injured and who wasn’t. For the first minutes we couldn’t find everybody amongst the debris. The details of what transpired over the next 30 minutes are not important, but in summary we determined that Greg had suffered a head laceration, Jenny had suffered a head injury, and Fiona had severely injured her back and was unable to move from the position she had landed when thrown from the vehicle. Laura, Jennah and myself escaped without substantial injury.
While waiting for an emergency response team to arrive, we stayed with Fiona and protected her from the swirling debris that were flying violently about the wreckage. It felt like we were in a Tornado. It took about 30 minutes for an ambulance to arrive and during this time it was unclear whether Fiona was bleeding internally. For all involved, these were the scariest moments of our lives as we thought we were losing her. An ambulance arrived and it was determined that Fiona needed to be emergency evacuated by Coast Guard helicopter to Reykjavik for immediate medical care.
The Coast Guard crew arrived after another 30 minutes and performed a skilled landing in the extremely gusty wind nearby. I was able to accompany Fiona on the flight and she was incredibly brave. Once in Reykjavik Fiona was attended to by a large team of medical experts in the cities primary hospital. It was quickly determined that Fiona has fractured her Sacrum and partially crushed her Pelvis. The Sacrum is the bone that connects the spine to the pelvis. The nature of Fiona’s injury is that the fracture is unstable, meaning she cannot not move without further endangering her spinal chord and neurological functions. During this evaluation period it was determined that much of Fiona’s neurological function is in tact. She can move her legs, toes, etc. However, the unstable condition of her bones meant she was at constant risk of further injury.
From Saturday to Wednesday (yesterday) Fiona was immobilized flat on a bed while her condition stabilized in Iceland. During this time we sent her CT scans and X-Rays to family and friends in the United States for review. We were extremely lucky for her case to be forwarded to an expert team in Boston who all agreed that Fiona required immediate surgery to stabilize her bones. Unfortunately this surgery is so complex that few surgeons around that world can perform it, and the hospital in Iceland was not suitable to perform it.
During this time Laura and Jennah were absolute rockstars, helping Fiona manage her pain and organizing all the logistics related to recovering our property from the accident. Volunteers walked the accident site and found more or less all of our belongings. For scale of the wind, one man found some of our wallets and phones 700 meters downwind from the wreck.
After days of logistical planning we were able to secure Fiona a flight on a commercial flight to Boston yesterday. The airline was extremely helpful and essentially folded 9 seats down such that a stretcher could be fixed above it. During transit she could not be moved from a laying down position without risking her spinal chord. Every time we moved her from one stretcher to another was extremely painful for her, but she handled it with absolute poise and courage. We arrived last night in Boston and were met with an emergency medical crew to transport Fiona from Logan airport to Massachusetts General Hospital. This transport went incredibly smoothly despite arriving from a foreign country. We are incredibly thankful for everybody’s efforts in facilitating this.
We are currently in Mass General where Fiona is scheduled for surgery tomorrow (Friday). The surgery is complex but we have one of the best specialists for this injury in the world performing it. She will be given a variety of screws and plates to stabilize her sacrum and pelvis and provide her the stability she requires to recover. Fiona has been brave beyond words through all of this, but this final major hurdle is understandably very scary for her and all of us that love her.
I apologize for sharing this information in such a crude manner as Facebook. We didn’t want to communicate this to friends publicly until we knew the full extent of Fiona’s injuries and the path forward to her recovery. Our best case scenario is that she will make more or less a full recovery without any neurological damage. It’s unclear whether this will happen or not, but her early tests suggest it is possible and we’re happy and thankful to be in that position given the severity of the accident. As with everything so far, we will cross each bridge as we reach it. We are thankful for the strength and love from both the Graham and Rynne families and feel confident that we can tackle whatever lies ahead.
Fiona will be incapacitated for some time and will not be able to read texts or emails on her own for approximately a week, maybe more. I am happy to read your notes to her, so feel free to pass them onto me either in this message thread or via direct message to me or email ([email protected]). I won’t be answering phone calls from anybody besides family during this time because I need to stay focused on being with her, so please stick to email or Facebeook messages for now. Down the road I will be sure to connect with you all in person, by phone or through email once I have time. In the meanwhile, please be patient.
There is nobody else in the world that has more strength, budding positivity, or determination than Fiona. This is one of the many reasons we all love her so very much. I know she can fight through this and win, and we’re going to do whatever it takes to get there.
October 5th, 2015 by admin
Welcome to the 2015 Tour De France a la Voile, the seminal series barely rescued from an ignominious death last year and entering its final days of action down in Nice. The new TdF is all about beaches, babes, trimarans, and action rather than sportsyachts, distance racing, and student teams. Wanna see the balls-deep T-bone this shot comes from? Click here for the full video of the crash. For more links and discussion of the all-new event, hit the thread.
July 24th, 2015 by admin
AFP photographer Jean-Sebastien Evard had another view of the Spindrift 2 versus Volvo Ocean Race RIB incident, and it differs from that of the Spindrift in several ways; first, that the RIB was stationary (though the prop wash in several pics calls that into question), and second, that the trimaran was under reduced sail (a photo and caption in his original story show a full main and solent). Our thoughts go out to everyone effected by this horrific accident, and most especially to the woman fighting for her life in a hospital. We have little doubt that phone videos and viewer accounts will help pin down the chain of events leading to this one and lay blame where it belongs, but for now, positive thoughts or prayer are in order.
Read the full account in French here.
This is the start of the ninth and final stage of the Volvo Ocean Race, a prestigious sailing race around the world for monohulls. The Spindrift 2 is not among the competitors. But the boat in Lorient as home port, and it is traditional tall ships attend the race starts when they take place at home.
I find myself on a press boats with three other photographers and two pilots. The weather is beautiful, the working conditions are ideal. Before launching out to sea towards Gothenburg, the end point of the race in Sweden, the Volvo Race yachts must carry a small race course near Lorient.
The media boat on which I find myself took position at the limit of the exclusion zone strictly limited by the organizers not to hinder competitors near the starting line. There are always many people on the water on racing days. Several organizer boats are there to prevent boaters and jet skis that swarm around the perimeter to venture into forbidden.
I see the Spindrift 2 going to the starting line. Almost stopped, the boat turns to port and picks up speed. He heads straight for the marshal boats. Immediately, the maneuver seems dangerous. This trimaran is a real Formula 1 of the sea, with great sailing, unheard-of acceleration and tremendous inertia. The helmsman does not have a good view. The Spindrift 2 is like a big ship, difficult to maneuver down the track towards a stopped marshal boat. The boat driver knows that if he advances, his boat will pass under the hull of the trimaran. It seems paralyzed, like us, on board the press boat.
The scene lasts only three or four seconds. The shock is inevitable. I see the RIB occupants jump overboard in panic. Life jackets inflate automatically on contact with water. One of the rudders of the trimaran hits with full force the side of the RIB, making a frightening noise that sounds like “tac”. A woman is launched violently into the water. I am the only photographer on board the press boat to have the reflex to whip my camera into place and take 15 continuous images. Why? I do not know … I have not had time to understand what happened.
Immediately, our skipper rushes to the scene of this rare accident, thirty or forty meters from us. But we will not have to intervene: In seconds, two National Rescue Society boats are already there and take things in hand.
A huge bloodstain slowly spreads in the sea near the RIB. After twenty minutes, a helicopter arrives, hoisting the victim aboard. She looks in very bad shape…
Full google trans here.
June 17th, 2015 by admin
UPDATE DIRECTLY FROM SPINDRIFT 2: While sailing under reduced sail, the Spindrift 2 trimaran collided with the RIB that crossed her path. A person who was on board the motor boat was seriously injured before being taken over by the rescue and transported to the hospital Scorff Lorient. “We are primarily concerned about the health of the victim. All our thoughts are with her and her family,” said Spindrift 2 skipper Yann Guichard. “The team is deeply affected by this incident and of course, we are cooperating fully with the ongoing investigations.”
Two photographers were thrown from a Volvo Ocean Race marshal boat and one woman reportedly sliced open by the rudder of the RTW Jules Verne record-owning Spindrift 2 during the Lorient start of the final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. There is precious little actual news about the incident, though one eyewitness told us it was ‘grisly’, and the three shot sequence of the knife-like rudder of the monster trimaran as it passed through the RIB (shot 1, shot 2, shot 3 via Getty/AFP) doesn’t need too much imagination to see just how bad the wounds probably are.
The woman, in her 40s, was airlifted to hospital, and the other three crew were brought in separately. The VOR has something of a non-statement here, and we’ve been pestering the Spindrift 2 team for something from them as well.
Having seen the lack of awareness from the ‘stake’ or marshal boats at almost every stopover, we’re shocked this hasn’t happened sooner, and the ease with which the inexperienced underestimate the closing speeds of the latest flying and foiling boats makes it inevitable.
This whole thing brings up a much deeper problem that every organizer must now step up and accept; faster sailboats mean support boat drivers MUST BE BETTER TRAINED, and drone operators must be checked out and permitted by each event. There is no way around it, and the longer we wait, the more people will lose their fingers, their toes, their limbs…or worse.
Photo from AFP via this story in Le Telegramme.
June 17th, 2015 by admin
Some days, you just gotta stay home. This dude on Sydney Harbour had one of those days, but at least the Manly Ferry folks had some fun!
March 3rd, 2015 by admin
That’s double gold medalist Shirley Robertson and her CNN Mainsail producer offering the first of many apologies to top US mothie and Luna Rossa Challenge team member Bora Gulari (Detroit, Michigan) after her media boat collided with his foiling moth. Shirley’s media boat destroyed the rudder gantry of Bora’s Mach 2 during the carnage-filled pre-start to an aborted race yesterday while the CNN crew were facing the other way; they were filming a pre-start lineup with Nathan Outerridge and Paul Goodison.
CNN took Bora’s foils to shore and then left him when help came along; Bora went into survival mode, with a club rescue RIB nearly running him over in an attempted recovery in wind-against-tide nastiness. Finally, the ETNZ rescue boat came over and helped the American and his boat get to shore (along with helping about a dozen others, while event rescue boats milled about in some confusion).
While CNN may be used to being ridiculed, we’re pretty disappointed in Robertson, who we know is a passionate, experienced sailor. Given how lightly the responsible RIB got off (no injuries to Bora), Shirley would have certainly won our respect had she stood up and taken responsibility and assuring Bora that she would do what it took to get his boat back up to snuff. Instead, she tried to divert blame from her, implying that the sailboat ran into her powerboat. We understand that lawyers have made honesty something of a relic, but we would hope Shirley knows better. Apparently not.
In contrast, Regatta Chair Peter Osbourne and the entire SSCBC team have been transparent and communicative, and this morning, we got a phone call assuring us that Bora would not be out of pocket for a penny. That’s how it should be done. Top photo credit to Petey Crawford, rescue shot to Sander Van Der Borch.
Racing is cancelled for Wednesday, with 30-40 knots on Port Philip Bay. Join us right here on Sailing Anarchy for all the live video action on Thursday and Friday as the Worlds Finals is packed into 2 short days.
January 13th, 2015 by admin
Remember when our Senior Editor was the closest witness to a multiple-death boat crash this summer on the river in Michigan? Well, apparently there is some justice in the world, and it also means Mr. Clean won’t have to answer that witness subpoena after all.
Brandon Verfaillie’s blood alcohol was over 0.1 more than an hour after the crash according to police, and he he allegedly pled guilty to two counts of operating a vessel while intoxicated causing death and one count of operating a vessel while intoxicated causing serious injury; the maximum combined time he can be sentenced is 35 years, and the judge will hand it down in January.
Verfaillie is also facing wrongful death and other lawsuits. His life is mostly over, but not over as the two people he killed. Thankfully, while it’s got its shortcomings, the system sometimes works.
December 9th, 2014 by admin
You thought rudder problems were an issue in your wee yacht? Well, when it hits one of the world’s largest container ships as she enters Suez Canal, it’s a whole different ballgame. Check out the Colombo Express taking a chunk (and some containers) off the Tanjong in the spectator video above; the canal was shut down for about half a day with minimal pollution issues and no injuries; a lucky end to a collision that could have been a hell of a lot worse. Thanks to SA’er ‘pipe dream’ for the heads up.
October 1st, 2014 by admin
Gary Green’s Bennie 44.7 Green Dragon 2 takes a bite out of Jerry Finnegan’s Cal 40 Celebrity during the Santa Barbara to King Harbor Race. Grab some popcorn and enjoy. Then talk shit. Thanks to ‘Par Avion’ for the find.
August 6th, 2014 by admin
Just two hours before some of the the Cal 25 Nationals fleet would sail through the same spot on the way back to Bayview Yacht Club from Port Huron, MI, our own Mr. Clean was on hand to witness a horrific accident in the St. Clair River. While a picture may say a thousand words, this was a truly bizarre one, and we go to Clean for more on yet another big summer boating accident. The lesson to sailors? Never stop scanning your horizon for the marine environment’s real killers: Go-fasts with drunken idiots behind the wheel.
In a lifetime on the water, I’ve never seen anything quite so nasty happen, and I just happened to have a front row seat. Remember when that moron in the speedboat on the Lake of the Ozarks caught a wake at speed and nearly flipped, beating the hell out of the occupants?
We had a similar situation here last night but with much worse consequences, when a 25 or 30 foot Baja cigarette-style boat, running at least 50 mph, decided to go through the wake of a big Bayliner cabin cruiser without throttling back, and at a terrible angle. I happened to be less than 200 feet from it all; having slowed down for the Bayliner’s wake, I saw the speedboat approaching at mach 2 and decided to watch the action, actually saying to myself, out loud, “This is gonna be good.”
The Baja caught the first wave and got heeled to the left in the air, then caught the second at a worse angle, which launched it back in the air, now with 20 or more degrees of heel to the right. By this time, even if the driver were still hanging on to the wheel, he was just along for the ride. The Baja hit the third wave at a terrible angle – the boat was bow-up and heeled hard to the right when it hit – and it literally launched itself completely clear of the water by 4-6 feet – aimed directly at the Bayliner’s flying bridge. The heel on the Baja had rounded the boat up on the final wave, turning it to the left instead of straight through as intended by the driver. The Baja didn’t so much hit the Bayliner (and the six people on the bridge) as landed on top of it, then continued over it, and landed in the river. The entire upper deck of the Bayliner was torn off its supports, and barely remained connected to the main deck by a few hoses and wires.
After calling 911, I moved. The Baja was between the cruiser and me, so I snapped a pic of the culprits to make sure no one made a run for it. They were pretty shaken up, and responded that ‘everyone’s fine’ when asked. I gunned it over to the stricken vessel, and they were shouting that there was someone in the water. As I searched downriver and mentally tried to figure out how much water had moved in the 5 minutes since impact, (there is 2-3 knots of current in the river at this point), I kept yelling for every boat I saw to join in the search. Shortly thereafter, with more than a dozen boats now on scene helping out (but still no official help) a woman’s body was pulled out by a pontoon boat, and 20 minutes of CPR didn’t help her.
As the body was pulled from the water, I noticed the Baja drifting downriver, nearly out of sight. As I headed back to them, a crowd hollered at me on shore, and I ran over to a house to pick up the local Fire Chief, who I dropped off on the Bayliner to help with the rescue. As I handed him off, I saw the second body in what used to be the cockpit of the boat – a man in his 50s – also unresponsive after a few minutes of CPR. A third casualty – a woman in her 60s – looked to be going into shock, or cardiac arrest, or both.
I hung around for long enough to see the freighter traffic start to idle through the channel again, as it just didn’t seem right to buzz over to the lake and go fishing after the carnage I’d just witnessed. After giving my number and info to the Marine Police and USCG as a witness, I overheard the Sheriff who had the Baja’s driver in custody talking to the neighboring police boat. ”You take the statements from the passengers; I’m taking this one in.” I couldn’t hear the next question from the deputy, but the Sheriff’s response made that clear. ”Yep, he’s been drinking.”
It’s unlikely that a sober Baja driver would have done any better in that situation, but that’s not the issue. A sober person – at least one with an IQ over 50 – would never have taken that wake at that speed. Once again, the equation holds: Horsepower + (Alcohol OR Youth) + Inexperience = Death.
Title comes from one of the 80′s best cult films, also about a river, death, and stupid people.
August 4th, 2014 by admin