dig deep

From the Islands Race tragedy comes two new pieces of info; first, Uncontrollable Urge crew Craig Williams leaves behind a wife, a young daughter and one “on the way”.  While we respect the crew’s privacy and await more information from both the crew and the Medical Examiners’ office, that’s no reason to hold off on donating some money to the family of a lost brother.  Williams was young, full of life, and had everything to live for; let’s give his widow and kids something to live for too. So please, hit this link and dig DEEP! 

UPDATE: Celebration of Life Honoring Craig Williams

Family, Friends, Colleagues, and Sailors, We invite you to join us this Friday March 15, 2013 from 3:30pm to 7pm at San Diego Yacht Club, 1011 Anchorage Lane, San Diego, California 92106. This will be a celebration of a life that was lived fully but cut way too short. Come tell a story, raise a glass, tell a joke and remember the good times we had.

Second, Mile High Klub crew Chris Winnard added some more detail to the Mile High Klub report from the same nasty race.  Be sure to check the full thread for the full story and read on for Snapper’s report.

We were all aware of the weather reports for the weekend and knew we were in for a breezy race. We had a lot of discussion regarding what headsail to fly at the start and the wind dropped considerable so we went with the med Jib, good for 10-16 apparent.

As we milled around the start area we saw that UU had a reef in and were clearly thinking about bigger breeze. We jumped the fleet at the start on port and lead out choosing to exit through the middle gate since the breeze looked batter outside. This was a mistake as the wind went right and allowed the Ben 36.7 to cross us as we met at the last gate.

After a few tacks heading up to the point we got to the point where we wanted to tack to go across and had the 36.7 behind us and UU well to leeward. As we headed across UU tacked up once but went back as they were well behind and held a low line to Catalina. So low we were joking about them taking the island to starboard.

With the wind going right we maintained a high line shearing well away from the 36.7 and figured UU was about three miles to leeward and abeam as we started to tack around the island surrounded by the sleds and a couple of J-120’s. Winds were in the mid to high teens for the most part and not too bad. Our big worry at this point was Pete Hambrick’s back injury and Payson and I discussed whether we should head down to the Isthmus and get him seen to. In hindsight this would of course been the best call!

After almost getting rear ended by Alchemy we tacked and got around the island and headed for San Clemente in a building breeze. Within a few miles we were getting into some serious conditions – winds in the 20’s now but very large and unpredictable seas. It took two hands on the tiller extension working the boat through the waves with large sneaker waves crashing into us from the side. This was a very rough stretch and not great for the FT if we were hoping for a decent overall placing. However, half way to SC I didn’t care about anything other than just finishing and hoping the wind would drop – it didn’t…

We kept the boat on the ragged edge jib reaching with speeds up to 18 knots with J-120’s around us from what we could see. When we got to the bottom of the island we jibed in and tried to work the best vmg we could with the jib. The wind dropped enough for us to decide to fly the spinnaker since we needed to soak to course. Up it went and a combination of too much weight forward and a big swell rounded us up.

I believe the rudder got damaged when we wiped out with the spinnaker. The waves had been causing us problems trying to control the boat and I couldn’t imagine the sheer loads during this wipe out but it still held for several hours. It was when we were switching helm that it broke. Payson had handed off the helm and we hit a big wave that started to round us up. I tried to get the bow down but found myself in the water with the boat on its side. I grabbed the stern pulpit and got back on the boat. Had I been separated from the boat I would not be typing this as the boat started spinning in circles out of control.

The crew of MHK all kept calm and we dealt with all the issues and the coast guard were truly amazing. The one thing that disappointed me was when I got on ch 16 and issued the distress call there were four boats in our area. No reply. I even alerted Islands Race boats of our status and for the boats in our area to look for a boat going in circles (we had sails down at this point).We waved flashlights at two boats and no one apparently saw us even though one was heading right towards us at one point. If conditions are that bad all boats should be monitoring 16 – period.
The worst part of the night was the waterspout sighting and getting everyone down below as we watched it approach then pass by us. I’m not sure what to do if you get over run by a waterspout but figured the best place was to stay in the boat!

Ultimately the Coast Guard came out to us and dispatched their RIB team with medic who jumped on and evaluated Pete. He was deemed not in a life threatening state and was given some happy pills and a warm blanket. The crew from the cutter ‘Steadfast’ were awesome and we coordinated a plan to get to SD. The CG had a smaller 45’ boat sent from SD and we had enough phone signal to get hold of other FT owners and SWYC folks to coordinate bringing a replacement rudder out to us.

The smaller CG boat came out and began towing us but it went as well as we expected, yawing back and forth violently to the point of near whiplash. They finally stopped and threw us a drogue, which we were beginning to deploy when our friends met up with us, rudder in hand. They got the parts to the CG who then floated them over to us. Within 20 minutes we had the motor on and heading to Point Loma.

Lessons learned…? I think if we had two drogues on board we could have sailed the boat back. Drogues and an emergency rudder would also have been the call. The conditions exceeded what we were expecting but the boat held together fine and we can learn from this experience.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Craig’s family and let’s have the power of SA help his family out in this difficult time.

-Chris W