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Posts Tagged ‘overboard’

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It’s been six years since Mark Morley and Suzanne Bickel died during the Chicago Mackinac Race aboard Wingnutz, and Saturday night was very nearly Deja Vu all over again.  A nasty frontal line – similar to the one that capsized Wingnutz in 2011 – tore through the fleet from the West around Midnight.  Rather than just a big increase and righty, the line held huge, spiking gusts of well over 50 knots, shifting constantly in the turbulent boundary.

Few boats came through the squalls without damage, but the scariest report came from Bill Shellhorse’s Virginia-based Farr 400 Meridian X, a perennial competitor in the Mac.  During a knockdown, they lost a crew overboard and it took a full hour to recover him.  With water temps in the mid 60s and huge, short seas, it’s amazing the crew was able to stay alive, and it’s not a surprise to have received a tip that the rescuee was maybe a few minutes away from the worst end possible.  Despite multiple USCG assets in the area and quite a few boats trying to stand by and help, it was Meridian which recovered their crew under what must have been terrifying circumstances.

As much as a third of the fleet retired to nurse their wounds, while almost the entire multihull fleet pulled out, but not before the F31 trimaran High Priority 2 went over in a 50-knot gust and turtled; the pic to the left is of her crew being winched aboard a CG tender after they hung out on their upside-down hulls for a while.  The big showdown between the two ORMA 60s – Earth Voyager and Arete – failed to materialize, with EV pulling out with mast track problems.  Arete is just 5 NM from the finish as we speak – not of the Chicago Mac (which they finished with first racing boat and first in class) but of the SuperMac! Owner Rick Warner wrote us this morning.  “All of the Arete team wishes best wishes to everyone forced to retire.  We are so glad the crews are all OK!  We saw plenty of wind, on the nose in the upper half of the lake.  It was steady 30s with 7-foot faces with a typical Great Lakes short period, the boat was fully out of the water at times, the main hull launching off the back of the waves and the leeward ama digging in and piercing the next one…if you know how far back the helm pods are on Arete, you understand what it means when I say that the waves were actually pounding on it…We are looking forward to the Port Huron-Mac and then the TransSuperior!”

Quantum owners the DeVos family aboard Windquest ironically retired with sail damage, with the big squall disintegrating an A3 and shredding the headboard of their mainsail, while TP52 Natalie J pulled out after destroying their jib tack, cunningham, and some odds and ends.

Thankfully there are no reports of major injuries, though the sailmaker’s (and rudder repairers) bill is sure to total millions…

Tracker for both the CYC race and the SuperMac are here.   Results here.

 

July 17th, 2017 by admin

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