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Posts Tagged ‘CYC Race to Mackinac’

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Delta pilot Mark Wheeler is the luckiest man in the world this week, and thankfully, he’s sharing the info in the hopes that others have an easier time when they go in the water.  The Delta pilot (presumably with far more training in survival than the typical sailor) and crew of Farr 400 Meridian X gave his account of his rescue on Sunday morning after falling overboard during the windy CYC Mackinac Race.  One note: The crew of this boat is exceptionally experienced, and has raced thousands of miles together – many of it in boisterous conditions.  Another reminder that it really can happen to any of us at any time.  The discussion’s already going over here.

The wind forecast was for a cold front to come through in the middle of the first night with a fairly sudden shift from SW to N. We raced under spinnaker on the lifting starboard tack from the start and then gybed to the heading port tack.This brought us to our target position in the middle of Lake Michigan and about 100 nm up from the start. The wind direction was 220 at about 15 kts. There was one thunderstorm to the west that did not seem to be moving. The front was still to the NW and an hour or so away.

At about 23:30, the wind began to build rapidly to 30 knots with no change in direction, and then very soon to 40 knots. I had gone off watch at 23:00. An all hands on deck call was made to get the staysail and A2 down.  I scrambled on deck with my inflatable life jacket and harness on, but not buckled. As I got back behind the wheels, I reached out for the port running back winch.  Just before my hand made contact with the winch the helm was put over hard to starboard to go down with the ever increasing wind. I went over the side head first through the life lines above the winch. I was only able to grab a spinnaker sheet for a couple of seconds as the boat was going approximately 18 knots.

I had my inflatable life vest set up for manual operation because of all the unwanted auto inflates I had seen on deck in wet races. My first order of business was to pull the lanyard to inflate the vest. The water was really rough at this point and breathing was a challenge. The vest inflated properly which was a relief, but since I had not buckled the front fitting I had to hold the lobes together with my arms to stay afloat. I knew it would be a while before my teammates could return to look for me since they were travelling away so fast and would not be able to turn without dropping the chute. In fact, afterwards we estimated the boat ended up more than 1.5 miles from me.

With the wind blowing 40 knots, I was in survival mode and concentrating on remaining calm and trying to breathe without ingesting too much water. I retrieved my brand new safety light from the PFD and held it up. The crew saw it for a while but lost it in the distance. Right from the beginning the light did not want to stay on bright and steady. I kept banging the side of it to get it to come back on. After a while the wind died down to the 12 to 14 knot range, but my light went out and no longer worked. I tried several times to get my harness buckled in front of me but could not do it with my life jacket inflated. At that point I inventoried my gear. Besides my failed light, I had a whistle, my AIS transmitter and my safety knife.  AIS was not mandatory for this race and we did not have it on Meridian X. My transmitter would have to be picked up by another boat or the USCG if someone with AIS was within a couple of miles of me. The thunderstorm to the west gave me a reference so I knew where north and Meridian X was. The next 15 minutes were discouraging to say the least. I was floating in the middle of a pitch black, moonless Lake Michigan with no light at 12:15 AM, and with no boats in sight. After about 30 minutes I could see Meridian’s white mast light off in the distance, but clearly a long way from me.

The weather forecast was for big wind out of the north once the front showed up and I was starting to get extremely cold. I blew my whistle every minute or so during this time. The next time I rotated to the north, instead of a distant light I saw a green glow of the masthead tricolor and it was significantly closer. I started whaling on the whistle. Occasionally water would get into it and the whistle would not work, but when I had clear blasts it was very loud and fortunately carried a long way. Meridian heard the whistle. Later they told me they would motor and then stop to get the boat quiet, listen, and go towards the sound again. We think this process took about 15 minutes but it worked and I was found!

I was suffering from hypothermia when they dragged me aboard.  I had been in the water for 1 hour and 6 minutes. The crew got my wet clothes off, wrapped me in blankets and fleece, gave me some hot water and eventually I stopped shivering. We retired from the race and headed for Muskegon immediately after my retrieval, which was about 4 hours away.  Once I was warm it was clear I did not need medical attention.  I consider myself a very lucky man and I will forever be grateful to the crew and my good friends on Meridian X for being able to recover from the squall and get back to the same general area in which I was lost. It certainly was not an easy task.

July 19th, 2017 by admin

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The Michigan-based 1D48 WhoDo definitely did, and this John Quinlan (crew on Pterodactyl) photo from a Blake Arnold Facebook post shows her slipping beneath the Lake Michigan waves during this weekend’s Chicago Mac, reportedly after a broach in a squall led to a broken rudder and a big hole in the bottom of the boat.

All crew safely offloaded to their liferaft and they were picked up by Mark Bremer’s City Girl with Eric Oesterle’s Heartbreaker  standing byWe don’t know how much water she sank in or if salvage is possible, but we hope so.  Whodo’s crew list and boat details are here.

While storms beat up the middle of the fleet, the Detroit TP52 Natalie J flew down the course, finishing just 3 hours behind the ORMA 60.  Still plenty of racing to pay attention to (track ’em), but she looks good for yet another overall victory.  Daily report over here.

This post has been edited to reflect City Girl as the rescuing vessel.

July 24th, 2016 by admin

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Longtime singlehander Tim Kent sent us this report from the deck of Areté, the Great Lakes’ new king of speed. It’s great to finally see a real, modern ocean racer come to freshwater sailing – even if she’s more than a decade old herself. Expect to see some records fall this summer, especially if the all-Anarchist crew can keep the skinny side up.  Head over to the team’s Facebook Page for photos, videos, and updates.

The idea of bringing an ORMA 60 trimaran to the Great Lakes was an audacious one.  There are an extremely small number of decent examples of the world-beating trimaran class left, fewer are for sale.  The closest ones are in France, and shipping one is ludicrously expensive, so a long transatlantic delivery needs to be planned and executed with all of the vagaries that such a trip can entail.

Because the boat is roughly a 60’ square, it won’t fit anywhere easy, and has to come in through the St. Lawrence Seaway – and if the boat is to be raced on the Great Lakes in the summer, it has to come in during the spring.  The early, windy, very cold spring.  Why so cold?  Because at the northernmost point of the delivery, the boat is at a latitude that is roughly 530 statute miles north of Detroit.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 11.37.23 AMRick Warner has an affinity for audacious projects – his previous trimaran was the relatively audacious [modified F-31 R] Cheeky – so he dove in, acquiring the ORMA 60 Sopra in April and rechristening her Areté (from the ancient Greek, meaning “striving for excellence in all things”).  The boat made a two-part delivery from the Med to Newport, RI – including an unplanned stop in the Canary Islands.  Members of the racing crew picked her up in Newport and sailed her up over the Gaspé peninsula, down to Quebec, then through the locks on the St. Mary’s River and the Welland Canal – lifted 590 feet above sea level – to her summer home in Port Huron, Michigan.

The team’s first-year goals are simple – compete for first-to-finish in every race.  Our first race was last weekend’s Queen’s Cup, South Shore Yacht club’s annual sprint across Lake Michigan from Milwaukee, and our goal was the Sylvie Trophy for first-to-finish.  The top contenders for first to finish were a bit different from last year, as unfortunately the Max Z86 Windquest and the VO70 il Mostro were both sitting out the race, but the TP 52s and the Andrews 77 Ocean were on the line.  No matter what, we wanted to post a lusty time.

South Shore Yacht Club moves the Michigan finish for the Queen’s Cup each year; this year, the race re-visited the resort town of South Haven, making this trip 78 miles on the rhumbline.  The race starts in the early evening, with the cruising fleet starting mid-afternoon.  Our start would be with the rest of the multihulls – last – with the forecast calling for a breezy, one-legged reach across the lake.

Our new sails had the battens from our old ones installed, and with our confidence in the old sticks a bit low, we started the race with our foot not entirely on the gas.  We crossed the starting line with a reef and the J2, reaching hard at 21 to 23 knots.  After clearing the multihulls and the first two fleets, we switched to the J1.  Still not satisfied, we declared the veteran battens to be stout enough for reaching and shook the reef and Areté responded, jumping to over 25 knots.

At this point we were carving through the fleet, doing our best to minimize our impact on the boats we passed.  With the cold water temps, spray and wind chill, it was cold on deck but no one minded – after a 9,700 mile delivery, we were finally racing!  As we watched our distance to finish quickly diminish, we realized that if we were to get all seven crew a little helm time, we were going to have to start rotating fast!  After the mid-point of the lake, it began to get warmer, but the wind backed off a bit as the temps rose.  As we closed on the coast, we picked out the finish boat, which had hustled out to meet us and crossed the line in 4 hours, 30 minutes, the first boat to finish.

We nailed our goal, adding Areté’s name to the Sylvie Trophy.  We learned more about the boat – it is an absolute thrill to sail, but we have a long, long way to go before finding all her speed buttons.  In two weeks, the freshwater sailing world’s longest race will begin in Chicago; it’s the 568-mile long SuperMac, and all the big players will be on the line.  We can hardly wait.

Queen’s Cup results here.

 

July 2nd, 2015 by admin

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Our old friend Bruce Geffen may have gotten rid of Nice Pair – the sexy black cat that he sailed to multiple consecutive multihull victories in the Mackinac races – but he’s still a dark sider to the core.  This year, he’s aboard the rebuilt 50-foot “Lucky Strike” as they head up the lake this afternoon.  Track the race here and if you’ve got an IQ below 80 check this video to learn how.  Stick to the CYC Facebook Page for an ongoing stream of information.  With On-The-Water Anarchy missing their first CYC Mack in years, it’s good to see NBC Chicago filling in with live coverage for the Parade of Boats,. And of course go here for the latest weather and discussion.  The forecast is dire; we’ll have the best reports from the fleet right here.

After having the aft crossbeam crack in the 2012 Bayview Mac Race, Manitou went through a complete refit and extensive rebuild.  Now named Lucky Strike, the 50′ Newick designed trimaran it’s back and better than ever.  New rigging, complete new crossbeam and deck area, rebuilt cockpit, a new self tacking jib, and the entire deck area it’s now clean and simple.  Her working area is user friendly, and the whole boat is stiffer than she ever was.  Freshly painted and the new press-and-stick non skid makes this cushy rocketship the prom queen of the multihull fleet as well as the Chi Mac fleet.  Fred Ball is the owner has brought together most of the crew from Nice Pair again due the third straight year.  On board is Jim Anderson, Kris Landman, father/son team of Earl and Hunter Lyden, and Bruce Geffen.  Looks to be an awesomely slow race this year, even by multihull standards.  Should be agonizing on a big yellow dump truck filled with lead!

Kiwis Andrew and Ken from Harbor Springs did the amazing rebuild of the boat.  Without their mastery and way over the top perfectionism, this would not have come to fruition so well.  These two are true craftsmen boat builders that are in a league of their own.

 

July 13th, 2013 by admin

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