Saturday’s Three Bridge was not a complete Fiasco after all. About a sixth — 57 according to the preliminary results — of 349 starters were able to round Treasure Island, Red Rock and Blackaller Buoy and finish where they began at Golden Gate Yacht Club before the 7:00 p.m. deadline.
First to finish the 21-mile pursuit race was Bill Erkelens’ D-Class cat Adrenaline at 2:46, a remarkable time considering the wind, or lack thereof. The first monohull to finish was Nick and Connor Gibbens’ Express 27 Shenanigans shortly after 3:00, and another Express 27, Will Paxton and Zach Anderson’s Motorcycle Irene, finished third. The first singlehander to finish, at 4:27, was Synthia Petroka on the Hawkfarm Eyrie. None of the three singlehanded multihulls was able to finish.
If you sailed in the Three Bridge Fiasco, be sure to attend the awards meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 11, at Oakland YC in Alameda. The Singlehanded Sailing Society has shirts for everyone, and it’s a tradition for the winners of each division to tell how they did it.
Rainmaker, the first of the much-heralded Nigel Irens-designed Gunboat 55 catamarans, was dismasted on January 30 in stormy conditions 200 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras. Owner Brian Cohen, his son, and three professional crew were aboard. Gunboat’s Peter Johnstone got the following report from the owner and crew shortly after the dismasting: "Sustained winds were 30-35 knots. Squalls had been in the 40-knot range for most of the day. A full whiteout squall hit that initially looked no different than the other squalls. Sails were up as there was no indication of squalls with winds above 40 knots. A wall of wind hit at up to 70 knots. There was no opportunity to get the sails down. The mast came down with the wall of wind.”
Because of a large swell out of the south and a building northwest breeze in the Gulf Stream, an onboard decision was made to abandon the $2+ million cat.
Rainmaker was at the very edge of the Coast Guard copter’s range. In fact, they were getting down to "fumes" on the way back from rescuing the crew, so instead of returning to their normal base, they diverted to the Dare County Airport on Roanoke Island. Ironically, that airport isn’t far from the busy Gunboat factory at Wanchese, North Carolina, so Rainmaker‘s crew were greeted by some of the workers who had built the boat.
Introduced last year, the carbon Gunboat 55 has a unique indoor/outdoor layout. She was proclaimed Cruising World’s Domestic Boat of the Year and Best Multihull Cruiser; Sailing World’s 2015 Best Multihull; and Sail magazine’s 2015 Best Boat overall. Gunboat has more than a dozen 55s on order.
This was an embarrassing incident for Gunboat, but since nobody was hurt and masts (and boats) can easily be replaced, we think there is actually a very bright side to this: scaring the bejesus out of all Gunboat 55 owners — and other cat owners as well — when it’s squally and the wind is blowing more than 30 knots. To be honest, if such a (relatively) light cat was really hit by a wall of 70-knot wind, we’re shocked that she didn’t flip, which would have been much more serious.
Call us chickens of the sea, but if it’s blowing over 30, we’d want our 63-ft Profligate — which is bigger, beamier and heavier than the 55s — very deeply reefed. And if there had been squalls all day in the 40-ft knot range, as had been the case with Rainmaker, we sure as heck wouldn’t have been carrying anything more than a tiny jib. Cats are fabulous, but they must be understood and above all respected.
Cohen, a New York-based technology strategist and investor, had previously raced a Swan 40 with considerable success, and was taking Rainmaker to the Caribbean to show her stuff on the race course. This was a hard way to learn that cats are very different animals than monohulls, but we’re confident that it’s a lesson that has really sunk in. We hope others — especially those who are buying Gunboat’s upcoming foiling G4 40-ft ‘Coastal Cruiser’ — pay heed.
As reported Saturday, the five-person crew of the 65-ft catamaran Flyin’ Hawaiian was airlifted to safety Saturday morning, after the homebuilt vessel began taking on water roughly 120 miles west of Monterey.
In a comment posted online after the Coast Guard’s official release about the incident, the big cat’s first mate, Valery Tozer, wrote: "The wood beams it was built from were faulty; they started to crack. We tried everything we could to hold her together. We tied and chained both sides together, but it didn’t help." Tozer’s wife, whose name was not given, served as navigator on the intended voyage to Hawaii. She is seven months pregnant, but Tozer reports that both mother and baby are okay despite the mayday trauma and the ordeal of being winched aboard a Coast Guard rescue helicopter. The couple were apparently intending to start a new life in Hawaii, as was the Flyin’ Hawaiian‘s owner/builder James ‘Hot Rod’ Lane. "We lost everything," wrote Tozer. According to waterfront sources, Lane’s mother and girlfriend were also on board.
Although the unconventional craft was equipped with some safety gear, it evidently did not have an EPIRB, as it was the signal from one of the crew’s personal locater device that initiated the rescue. Without that, the sad end of the Flyin’ Hawaiian‘s bizarre story might never be known. "The CG did a perfect job," wrote Tozer. "Thank you all."
"We built two new schools this year and have now built over 80 classrooms," says Zihuatanejo Sailfest spokesperson Pam Bendall. Since its inception a dozen years ago, this weeklong festival has focused on both fun on the water and fundraising. Through its affiliated nonprofit Por Los Niños, educated more than 6,000 children, according to Bendall, and it helps feed more than 30,000 people annually. With fundraising momentum building annually, Z-fest is now the most successful of all cruiser-funded charity events in Mexico, but much of the credit goes to expats in residence and regular visitors, some of whom make an annual pilgrimage to Z-town each winter to help organize, and participate in, Z-fest activities.
Why the need for classroooms? Por Los Niños’ efforts are primarily aimed at indigenous children from the barrios surrounding Zihuatanejo, many of whom do not speak Spanish. Primary education is free in Mexico, but you must be able to speak Spanish, so Por Los Niños funds early education of these kids in order to get them speaking the national tongue and get them ready for normal government-run classes.
Sail Fest begins tonight with a welcome dance party, followed by a live auction tomorrow, a pursuit race Wednesday, a chili cookoff and street faire Thursday, a parade of sail Friday, and finally a kids’ beach day Saturday.