Frank Kern files this report from Carinthia after last weekend’s Windsor Overnight Race on Lake St. Clair, Michigan. A good ending to a scary race, and something positive for the tragedy-struck Detroit J/120 fleet.
We had managed to skip the Windsor Overnight race on Lake St. Clair for the last four years but decided to do it as a change up. It had been shortened to 42 miles. It seems a number of times we would go 2/3s around the course, the wind would die, and end up motoring home. This was our first major race since the NOODs and it was still a little bit strange to go back sailing.
It started with a reach at about 60 in 12 to 14 knots and we attempted to fly the .75 spinnaker in the first 2.4 miles of the race. Unable to hold it up we went back to a headsail and then flew the .6 spin at the next leg. After rounding in first we got passed by Jay and HT on the leeward leg. I think this spinnaker just has too many thousands of miles on it and is just tired.
At the top leg we all rounded within feet of each other. The second leg was a fetch. Rounding with other boats the J120 cannot point with other boats and we had to take the lower course. We let the other boats go higher as we saw that there already a lift at the top of the mast indicating what would happen farther down the course. That did happen as we got lifted with the storm approaching. After dark I made a point about the crew wearing pfd’s and the expected weather. A comment was made that it did not look too severe but I retorted that you cannot tell at night.
We started to see boats rounding up behind us and I called to roll up the headsail but it did not happen in time. About a mile and a half from the Thames River buoy it hit and we immediately rounded up. It got real scary as we saw other boats going in different directions out of control and had to duck them. At this point we shredded our #1 (it was 7 years old). At the buoy we saw a multihull overturned and discovered they had lost a person overboard. Immediately we took down our sails and joined in the search. After 45 minutes of looking for that person it was ascertained that the person had been picked up and all crew members accounted for. This could’ve been a real disaster. None of the people on that boat had on life preservers. The crewman that was picked up did not even know the name of his boat.
When the search was called off we decided to just motor home. Jayhawker had shredded her main and participated in the search. Hot Ticket did finish. It almost seemed like a repeat of previous two week’s incident. After a long motor ride home we discovered the power was out at Bayview. A find ending to another stressful event.