another one down

another one down

Last week, Paul Larson told y’all about Team Invictus’s little mishap with their C-Class catamaran, and this week, current Little America’s Cup champions Fredo and Blunted follow suit.  Be sure to check out the 2010 LAC thread for your fill of pics, vids, and constant updates as we lead up to this exciting event in the most on-the-edge development class there is.  And Sailing Anarchy is the only place to find it. 

Well in the spirit of sharing our ups and downs with all of you as the pommies so recently have, we have a new tale to tell.

Saturday AM we woke up to another beautiful day here in Toronto, temperatures were expected to climb to 30 degrees for another early taste of summer, normally we would expect this to burn off the breeze and make for a lazy day but we were happy to find a nice 10-12 knot breeze coming from the East. A pleasant surprise. So instead of our normal leisurely pace of lunch than sailing we got right on the water before the breeze crapped out.

We rigged up Alpha, our trusty old girl and headed off the dock, breeze was now ranging from 5-14 knots with puffs and streaks all about the harbour. No worries, we set off at about 19 knots heading for the channel. We cleared the Eastern gap heading for the lake, picked up a nice puff and put in a gybe at the lee shore, hooking up with a nice little 12-14 knot puff. Fredo stepped to the back of the boat on the wire and I settled in on the tramp just inside him and sheeted a bit more aggressively, we were flying a hull no problem, easily accelerating to 20.5 knots and bearing away quickly to ride the edge of the puff down to the lake. Meanwhile Robbie and my 2 nephews had jetted out to the lake in the RIB to look for some more breeze a kilometer or two ahead.


Nothing on Alpha goes bang quietly, It is always a big bang, but I knew this was bad instantly, the hull dropped to the water, in that little instant of freefall I felt, and then saw Fred flying right over my head towards the wing, and I saw both Fredo and the wing flying forwards and down towards the water, @$^%@^@%!!! Wing Down!

A quick scramble to make sure Fred was OK and not impaled on any large bits of carbon and then straight to work. No time to sort out what happened, first things first, keep the wing from impaling itself or going under. We gently started sliding the wing up onto the tramp which inevitably leads to that crunching sound we hate to hear, but we have to keep going. The most important thing is to keep the main spar in one piece, so gently we ease her on to the boat and hold position for a few moments to catch our breath and do an assessment of what’s next.

So we have a quick chat about what happened aside from the obvious. It turns out Alpha is the perfect C-class boat, it does what it’s supposed to (Win the LAC) and then fails not too long after because it’s built right to the edge of what it needs to do. We had pulled out the starboard chain plate from its bulkhead, and the whole rig simply fell forward over the leeward bow of the boat.

The RIB showed up soon afterwards, and we set about getting the boat ready to tow in. After 20 minutes of futzing on the water and gently cajoling the wing about, we got her straddling the platform, starting the long tow in.  The trailing edge of our flap was certainly tortured during the whole thing, and like the Brits just explained, we had to cut more than a couple of holes in the wing to drain water out of it. 

The ride back to dock went smoothly. We stopped 500 meters short of the dock, cleaned up and coiled all the line and standing rigging and finalized our strategy for the dock. So when we finally got to shore, with the help of three more people we smoothly got the wing off the yacht and onto the dock with no more damage, and got the wing and platform into the tent in a few short minutes.

Out came the beers and then the knives as Rob sliced off the whole of the skin, allowing a full inspection.    And we determined that we’d gotten off easy – for dropping a rig at 20 knots, that is. We had a number of broken ribs to sort out, some damage to the boom box, the delta system was all but snapped in half and we had a puncture in our #1 element’s leading edge, but that was pretty much it.

So I have to say ‘good job ‘to the team for keeping a clear head and getting the whole show home mostly in one piece.

The most amazing thing in all of this is of course Fred’s attitude. 9 out of 10 people I know might have lost it, cussing to high heaven after dropping a wing – that costs more than a Farr 40 – in the piss. But Fred is the coolest guy on the entire team.  His attitude is "It’s just part of racing boats like this, and so goes life."  No doubt happy that it was not a write-off…

So thanks Fredo, yet again, for another great but short day of sailing.