Normally, post-ocean-race repositioning trips are a lot less dramatic than the race itself. But not always. Last Sunday, following Friday’s Kauai Channel Race (from Oahu’s Kaneohe Yacht Club to Nawiliwili, Kauai), Mark Denzer’s Sonoma 30 Cowabunga sank while her crew was delivering her home upwind.
Thanks to a textbook response from Coast Guard resources in both Oahu and Kauai, all seven crewmembers aboard were picked up out of the water without injury, including Denzer’s son Zack. All were wearing lifejackets. The owner himself was not aboard.
We have not been able to reach Denzer for details, but according to Hawaiian newspaper reports the sloop began taking on water at about 12:40 a.m. After receiving an EPIRB signal from the sinking vessel, the Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter from Oahu, whose rescue swimmer assisted four of the crews to safety aloft at approximately 1:50 a.m. The three remaining crew waited in a CG-supplied liferaft with the rescue swimmer for less than an hour before a 47-ft motor lifeboat, out of Kauai arrived to retrieve them.
Designed by the late Carl Schumacher, Sonoma 30s were built in Petaluma (Sonoma County) many years ago, hence the name. Sources tell us this is the same boat that lost its rudder in the very windy 2005 Lahaina Return and is a veteran of many ocean races.