The 2010 Great Texas 300 started with a normal Wednesday morning – a light Southwesterly sideshore breeze from the oven of hell’s kitchen licking South Padre Island. Only a couple of teams had issues negotiating the small breakers, and with kites up and paddles churning the water, there were no broken parts or egos. What a difference a few hours would make.
Since we weren’t on the water, we don’t know what broke first; parts or egos. But our live broadcast showed a towering thunderstorm looming over the race course like Thor waiting to drop his hammer on the fleet. And shortly after John Tomko and Ian Billings won the leg and Team Velocitek came in second, down it came. Squall lines coming down from the cell rocked the fleet and our OTW broadcast team, with teams estimating 35+ knots at times. Third place TCDYC flipped three times running from the wind and waves, though they finally righted the boat and crept to the finish, exhausted.
Not long afterwards, Team Yost Auto finished with no main and a boom in two pieces, a casualty of a hard flip 10 miles before. Fourth place on just jib and kite with the main halyard acting as a backstay! They said they’ll start tomorrow even if they have to nail two boards on each side of the boom – like all good setbacks, this one might just make them stronger.
Around this time, the radios starting buzzing. A team set off an EPIRB, and big red USCG choppers screamed over the beach. But it wasn’t just one team – as the breeze shut off, it turned out that two teams could not get themselves to safety, and both Quicksilver and Pacmen were ‘Abby’d" – rescued from their abandoned boats and brought to safety by the Orange Bird.
We found out later that the father/son Pacmen team flipped and turtled, and the son was taken to hospital for a suspected back injury – hopefully by now, he’s out of the hospital and thinking of how to conquer this race next year. We’ll find out more about the Quicksilver rescue in the morning, but both boats are right now floating, stick down, somewhere off this barren stretch of Texas coast. Salvage, anyone?
Team Corpus, Corey Harding and Pete Meyer, retired from the leg for unknown reasons, and were picked by their shore crew somewhere on the beach – along with their boat.
We can’t remember if this has ever happened before – two teams pulled from their cats during a distance race. We’ll clue you in on the full story tomorrow during our live On-The-Water Anarchy broadcast from the beach.
A big thanks to all of you who watched; we tallied over 12,000 views of our coverage for what is a niche event in a niche part of a niche sport, and everyone down here is stoked about it. You can check out the thread for written updates, and you can watch the entire broadcast from today here, or just the fun highlights here. See ya at 9 AM CST – if you’ve never seen a beach start, you’ll dig it.