I didn’t know Hal as well of some of his regular crew, but had the pleasure of crossing the Pacific with him three times and sailed on Cheval in a number of other coastal races. I found Hal to be a truly great and inspirational man who overcame a lot and never let obstacles get in the way of living life on his terms. It’s also sad to note that he is the third loss from our 95 Transpac crew, along with Ron Love and Mark Rudiger. I hope they are sailing together somewhere warm and with big waves now.
Great story about Hal in the 95 Transpac where we lost our rig. It’s amazing how quickly your circumstances can change. Just minutes prior we were surfing along with a big lead over Windquest and Pyewacket with less than 40 miles to the finish. We were all but assured of getting the barn door, and looking good for corrected overall as well. Then on the last jibe off the face of Molakai, the rig went over the side. Rudiger quickly figured out we were losing bearing on the point, and if we didn’t get things sorted, the dropped rig could quickly become a beached boat. We quickly got the life rafts ready in case needed and then set about the task of cutting away the rig to regain some control over the boat. As we cut away the rig, I think we all had some similar thoughts. Hal had invested so much in Cheval, it was his dream ride, custom built for his needs. Alan Andrews had delivered a great tool for the task, and Hal had put together a solid group of guys that were so close to delivering his cream of winning Transpac. Once the rig was a way, we rechecked the bearings and were now drifting clear of the point. At point we were all just gutted. The boat was a mess, a stump for a mast, cut ropes and splintered carbon all over the place. We were feeling bad for Hal, and probably for ourselves as well. But then Hal yells up from the nav station in his gravelly voice, something to the effect of “if you fuckers can get this thing going 8 knots we can still beat them to Diamond Head”. That was a total testament to how Hal approached life. He had been below plotting out our lead on the others, their average speed, and what it would take to defend our lead. He never quit, and never doubted there was a way to solve the problem.
We went about making setting the jury rig, tried a couple options, ending up with our funky jib top and genoa staysail sideways combo. If I recall correctly, Shaky even got the boat over 10 knots on a few waves. Hal was right, we managed to beat those guys in what was a very memorable finish.
Hal, your spirit, conviction and your never give up attitude will be missed, but never forgotten. Thread here.