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not all fun and games

Ullman Sails’ Keith Magnussen shares his final report from the J/125 Timeshaver on the Cabo race…

Before I get into this I wanted to start out by saying congratulations to Team Fast Exit for their overall win in the 2019 Newport to Cabo.  Their navigator called a perfect race and the boat was faster than I have ever seen so kudos to them.

So now we can dive right into the 2nd or 3rd day of the NHYC-Cabo Race.  If you missed the first few days please check back at my preview and also the live updates from the boat.

You prepare for an offshore race with the intentions of avoiding any dramatic occurrences.   It is truly vital to be prepared for anything and also be able to adapt in a situation that you did not see coming.  I think it was 2.5 days in when everything went south (no pun intended).  We were doing well, trading off the lead and were preparing the assault on the second half of the race.  Our navigator, Damian, had been doing a fantastic job of keeping us moving in the right direction.  He was staying awake long hours, sleeping in his foul weather gear and basically being stressed.  Navigators have it tough on small boats.  Somewhere along the line something happened.  Damian started to complain of a pain in his lower chest and started to vomit.  I just figured he was feeling a bit sick maybe from some food or stress.  Stig, our VOR dude, was also the doctor on board and did not yet voice concerns (although this rapidly happened).  Stig was fantastic in observing all of us and did not miss a thing.  It was a good thing we had him on this race.

As Damian’s condition deteriorated he resorted to spending long hours in his bunk.  Cody, Bill and I took over his shifts and I really did not see Damian much after this point.  He stopped coming on deck so I assumed (incorrectly) that the vomiting had stopped.  As if things were not bad enough, he developed an infection on his finger from a small cut or something.  I was so busy sailing the boat and being tired that it was not until Stig voiced his concerns that I got the gravity of the situation.

Stig did not know what was causing the pain. What he did say was that Damian’s body had sent all recourses there which left other areas vulnerable.  I think we had about 30 hours left and Stig considering trying to get a fishing vessel to pick him up.  Maybe we should have done that, I don’t know.

If you go back to the tracker you will see where Damian got sick.  Our track started to get a bit wonky and we struggled to maintain our lead.  Concern was not fore the race at this point.  We were trying to do well but thoughts were with Damian.

Our final jibe sent us on a ripping angle into Cabo.  We had the 3A up and I was downstairs and the boys were trying to keep a high angle for the finish.  Only problem was if the kite luffed or they skidded out it would cause the boat to shudder.  Damian said to me that I needed to make them stop because the pain was too much.  That was one of those moments where everything kind of stopped and I was really scared for him.  What was going on???

I went up on deck and settled things down and we finished the race as the sun came up.

The paramedics met us at the dock and Damian was on a stretcher and on to the hospital.  They couldn’t figure out at first what was going on…. They even thought it was an Appendicitis!  Damian spent a few days in the hospital and was finally cleared to fly.  He got back to the USA and it was determined he had tore the intercoastal cartilage in between some ribs and broke a rib head.  In addition he had an infection in his body.

Damian, you are a tough guy and at no point did you let us down, you are great sailor and destined to be a top class navigator.  I really believe that is this unfortunate set of circumstances did not happen then you would be talking about how you won this thing overall.  You will get it next time my friend.  I am sorry I did not do more to help you out on this trip when you fell sick.

This really put into perspective for me how important it is to be prepared and to take any situation with a crew member serious no matter how small you might think it is.

I will say this to finish it off… We were having a fun time sailing the boat, laughing and pushing it in the various conditions.  The morning shift at sunrise with Cody and Damian was always my favorite as we got to sail an awesome boat into the rising sun… Good times.  – K-Mag.