San Francisco’s Doublehanded Farallones race is one of the nastier coastal races around, and yesterday’s running of it was near fatal for the Anarchists aboard the J/80 “Heat Wave,” who capsized after losing their keel around 8 miles from the Golden Gate. Only 11 of 80-something boats finished, and David Servais gave us the first person account – scary, scary stuff, and the second J/80 to lose a keel recently.
Yes we’re both very glad we are ok. It was a very scary experience and I don’t wish it on anyone. I was amazed when my buddy (Dave Wilhite) dove under the overturned boat to recover our VHF radio from a sheet bag. That’s what saved our lives for sure.
I think I spent about an hour trying to stand on top of the boat leaning against the rudder talking to the coast guard on the VHF and holding a flashlight over my head.
To answer some of your questions –
The keel did fall off. We were going really fast down a very large wave with a reefed main and the jib. All of a sudden I had no helm and the boat turned 90 degrees (very weird thing to have happen when you are going fast and actually a little low – i didn’t feel i was in danger of wiping out at that angle and speed at all, we had been doing it for hours). The boat turned 90 very quickly and the wave we were riding broke over us and rolled the boat. At the beginning of the roll we heard what sounded like a tree cracking and falling down. That would have been the keel falling clean off. We were left in the water, tethered to the jack lines under the boat. We ended up cutting our tethers so we didn’t get dragged under.
About an hour later and lots of talking on the radio, 2 coast guard boats, a pilot boat and a helicopter all found us at the same time. They tossed us a line and I got my buddy off the boat as he was much colder than me due to the fact that he had been in the water the whole time while I was standing on the boat (though I think i got washed off the boat about 50 times). Then another coast guard boat told me to swim to them so I did.
Neither of us have any serious injuries, just lots of bruises and pretty sore bodies.
The coast guard did a great job of finding us and getting us to safety, lots of thanks go out to them. -David Servais. Picture of Heat Wave heading to her fate by Peter Lyons.
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