Fujin Capsizes in Caribbean 600

Fujin Capsizes in Caribbean 600

Greg Slyngstad’s American Bieker 53 multihull Fujin has capsized during the RORC Caribbean 600. All eight crew are safe.

Stephen Cucchiaro’s Gunboat 60 Flow stood by until Dutch/ French authorities organised a rescue vessel. Preparations are now underway to transfer all crew to the safety of Port Saba.

RORC Race Manager Chris Stone issued a statement on behalf of the race organisers, The Royal Ocean Racing Club:

“On Monday 19th February at 20:20 AST, Fujin capsized close to Saba Island and the eight-man crew were observed standing on the up-turned hull. All of the crew are now safe. Stephen Cucchiaro’s Gunboat 60 Flow stood by while rescue agencies co-ordinated the rescue efforts.
Jens Kellinhusen’s German Ker 56 Varuna altered course to assist, but has now continued racing. The Coastguard at Fort De France Martinique has been co-ordinating the rescue.”

The highly experienced crew on Fujin from Seattle, Washington, USA include the skipper Greg Slyngstad, the boat’s designer, Paul Bieker and Olympic Gold medallist Jonathan McKee.

Fujin’s Crew: Greg Slyngstad, Bradley Baker, Peter F Johnston, Paul Bieker, Gina Borza, Fritz Lanzinger, Michael Leslie, Jonathan McKee.

Ed note: I’ll be adding details asap.

Wet Wednesday Videos – The Sea Nymph Lives, Meadow Point Kite Boarders

Wet Wednesday Videos – The Sea Nymph Lives, Meadow Point Kite Boarders

This week we have a couple very different videos. The first one, courtesy of the Volvo Ocean Race Turn The Tide on Plastic, absolutely screams irony. Remember the two women and two dogs that were rescued amid the fawning morning shows back in October? Well, while they have spent the intervening months trying to explain why they drifted for seven months in a seemingly sound enough boat eating oatmeal and pasta, their boat has been happily bobbing around the Pacific. Apparently neither they nor the US Navy saw the sense in scuttling the boat (which for the safety of other mariners should be done) or thought it was so close to sinking it would take care of its own sinking. As is often the case, the boat held together. The mast (which they felt couldn’t be used) was still standing, and other than some obvious water in the boat, Sea Nymph seemed quite intact. Certainly intact enough to sink a boat hitting it in the open ocean. As Tide‘s skipper Dee Caffari puts it: “We are asking you not to litter the oceans with plastic and here we have a whole yacht floating aimlessly in our oceans!” Caffari’s entire post follows the video. Talk about unnecessary plastic in the ocean…..


What should you do when you see a yacht floating with no of signs of life? Well that question was asked onboard Turn the Tide on Plastic yesterday.

We were sailing within sight of Brunel and to weather we saw another yacht close to our track. We looked through the binoculars as there was no sign on the AIS software and we contacted race control. We called on the VHF with no response and race control confirmed there was no active SAR in the area. We sent up the drone with James, our on board reporter, for a closer inspection and to get some identification for the vessel.

We collected some images and sent them back to race control and they confirmed the vessel was the abandoned vessel, Sea Nymph. Many may remember a big news story in the US, last autumn, regarding the rescue of two women and a dog from the vessel on their way to Hawaii. Well this was that vessel all these months later. She was sitting pretty low in the bow and her mainsail was washed over the side but the rest of her looked like she would make a nice cruiser.

We discussed salvage rights for a while and estimated that the race director would not give us redress if we towed her to Auckland while racing. So there she sits a hazard to shipping, a risk to islands, reefs and atolls and slowly not going anywhere.

We are grateful we saw her during the day as this could have been a very different story had we come across her at night. She was floating stern to us with no lights or signal being given out, there is no way we would have seen her. ]

I just hope now we have given authorities her position there is a chance for salvage or for scuttling her to prevent a far worse disaster in our oceans. We are asking you not to litter the oceans with plastic and here we have a whole yacht floating aimlessly in our oceans!

Dee and Team Turn the Tide on Plastic


The second video was on the exceptionally sunny and somewhat chilly Sunday past. The kite boarders were giving Meadow Point beach walkers quite the show, so I pulled out my phone. Some were foiling boards, some were not. You can get a close look at their gear and setup right there, and of course get some close views of takeoffs and landings when the waves are just right. It’s not too often placid Puget Sound serves up kiting conditions, but when it does it’s quite the spectacle.

VOR Race Director’s Statement on the Vestas Collision

Damage to Vestas 11th Hour Racing

The folks at the Volvo Ocean Race came up with an update, quoting Race Director Phil Lawrence a couple hours ago. There’s not a lot of new news there, but at least it’s something.

Vestas pulled the fisherman from the water who ultimately died. A commercial vessel pulled the other nine victims from the water. The Volvo Race organizers asked Akzonobel to stand by Vestas, but at that point there was nothing to be done. The fishing boat sank.

Chances are there will be tons of speculation but no real information to come out in the next few days as things get sorted out. If any sailish readers hear of any solid news, please share – I’ll post it.

Thanks to those who commented on yesterday’s post.

Here’s Volvo’s web site post:

Phil, what do we know about what happened on the night of Friday 19 January between Vestas 11th Hour Racing and a Chinese fishing boat? 

First of all, we know a man lost his life, tragically, after an incident with one of our race boats. We offer our deepest condolences to his loved ones and family. We are relieved that the nine other mariners on board were rescued and initial reports have them in good condition.

In terms of what happened, we know a collision occurred shortly before 1723 UTC (which is when Race Control received the first message from Vestas 11th Hour Racing) between Vestas 11th Hour Racing and a Chinese fishing vessel. The incident took place around 30 miles from the Leg 4 finish line in Hong Kong.

Vestas 11th Hour Racing immediately stopped racing, informed us at Race Control of the incident (at 1736 UTC), sent a Mayday distress signal on behalf of the other vessel and aided in the search and rescue mission.

What happened then?

Hong Kong Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre informed Race Control that a nearby commercial vessel had rescued nine of the crew from the other boat, and a tenth was taken to hospital by helicopter after he had been rescued from the water by the Vestas 11th Hour Racing crew. We’re deeply saddened to report that Hong Kong MRCC confirmed the death of that airlifted crewmember later on Saturday morning.

What happened to the Vestas 11th Hour Racing crew and boat?

All Vestas 11th Hour Racing crewmembers are safe and uninjured but the boat suffered some damage to its hull. After participating in the rescue, the team was able to return to port without assistance and under its own power despite the damage. At no time did Vestas 11th Hour Racing request assistance for themselves.

What caused the collision? Was the other boat showing navigation lights, or using the AIS (Automatic Identification System)?

Infrared image during rescue made available by Hong Kong authorities.

We don’t have answers to those questions yet but of course those are central question to the on-going investigation. Both Vestas 11th Hour Racing and the Volvo Ocean Race will cooperate with the relevant authorities to establish what happened.

Could Race Control have prevented this accident by informing Vestas 11th Hour Racing of an imminent collision?

No. While Race Control does monitor the position of the race boats for safety reasons, Race Control does not have access to the position of every other vessel at sea.

What do we know about the other vessel involved in the collision and its crew?

We are trying to find out more. We know the other boat was damaged significantly and understand that it sank as a result of the incident. We know that 10 crew were on board and that all 10 were recovered but tragically, one was later pronounced dead at the hospital. We at Volvo Ocean Race, along with Vestas 11th Hour Racing are working with the local authorities to learn more about the crew of the boat involved in the incident. In fact, that is our main priority.

Can you release the name of the casualty?

We are seeking confirmation of identity from authorities as well as the appropriate information to release as per local custom.

What happened with Dongfeng Race Team and team AkzoNobel in terms of them assisting with the rescue?

Dongfeng Race Team were the first race boat to be near the scene and they immediately offered to divert to assist. At 1821 UTC Vestas 11th Hour Racing confirmed by email to Dongfeng Race Team that additional assistance was not required, so Dongfeng Race Team continued on to the finish.

Later, when team AkzoNobel arrived near the area on its route to the finish line, Race Control requested they stand by to support Vestas 11th Hour Racing as a precaution. Neither Vestas 11th Hour Racing nor the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre requested this assistance and once it was clear they were not required, Race Control released team AkzoNobel to finish the leg.

How is the crew of Vestas 11th Hour Racing?

As you would imagine they are very shaken and deeply saddened by the incident. They are being supported by the rest of their team as well the Volvo Ocean Race organisation and have access to professional support should they request it.

What happens next?

Along with Vestas 11th Hour Racing, we are actively working with the Hong Kong Police and the Maritime Authority to support the on-going investigation.

Vestas 11th Hour Racing Collision Results in Fisherman Fatality

Vestas 11th Hour Racing Collision Results in Fisherman Fatality
Vestas 11th Hour Racing motoring into Hong Kong after the collision.

In a tragic sequence of events Friday, the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) entry Vestas 11th Hour Racing collided with a fishing boat about 30 miles from the finish in Hong Kong, east of Waglan Island. The fishermen were pulled from the water, apparently by the crew of Vestas. Nine fishermen were rescued and one died of his injuries.

Vestas skipper Charlie Enright was not onboard, handing the reigns over to his longtime sailing partner Mark Towill while he had some pressing issues ashore. 

Vestas was reaching along at about 20 knots at about 2 a.m. local time, in a strong second place for the leg. Details are unknown and will likely remain so as an investigation is conducted. Vestas motored in to Hong Kong with the boat heeled to starboard apparently to keep the holed port bow out of the water.

Little is known and not much is forthcoming from VOR headquarters. In fact, while the online sailing community scoured the world’s servers for information, the VOR media team virtually ignored the calamity on air while it was happening.

While explaining the situation to my favorite newbie sailor (my wife Abby) I heard myself saying that flying into crowded waters at 20 knots at night is just not seamanlike. It’s not. If a vessel is dimly or not lighted, there’s not much time to react at 20 knots. Radar cannot easily pick up some low-slung vessels and AIS is not universally used. When you think about it, for the unsuspecting fisherman even trying to avoid a Volvo 65 flying at 20 knots isn’t at all easy. Without a doubt, these Volvo crews are the world’s greatest offshore sailors. But they can’t be expected to be the most seamanlike when racing into crowded waters at night on a boat capable of those speeds and so much at stake.

One thing about our sport is that no matter how risky we make it, we’re generally only endangering ourselves. The fact that a mariner not competing in the sport died is simply tragic. I’m sure the crews of all the boats, and especially Vestas, are devastated.

Ironically, it was Vestas Wind (crewed by a completely different team) that ran up on the rocks Cargados Carajos Shoals near Mauritius in the last Volvo Race.

I’ll spend way too much time trying to figure out what went on out there, and present it here when significant new confirmed information becomes available.

The rest of the boats finished in this order: Scallywag, Dong Feng, Akzonobel, Mapfre, Team Brunel and Turn the Tide on Plastic.




Wet Wednesday Videos

Wet Wednesday Videos

Apparently the sailish.com racers were too busy racing to take any video from the Duwamish Head Race on Saturday (good for you!). But that doesn’t mean it’s not a Wet Wednesday. So, for a change of pace, check out a couple interesting non-racing videos.

My friend Andy Cross of Threesheetsnw is wintering ashore in Alaska right now with his wife Jill and sons Magnus and Porter while his Grand Soleil 39 Yahtzee gets some attention. But here’s his video of part of his cruise to Alaska. I particularly like the idea of sitting on the foredeck reading to the boys. Perfect.

By the way, Andy will be giving presentations at the Seattle Boat Show; “An Unconventional Route to SE Alaska and Beyond” on February 2 and “Living the Dream: How to Get Your Boating and Cruising Stories Published” on February 3. I’m sure both will be good.

A Three-hour Tour

And in the following video that Cliff Mass unearthed, the passengers on the Norwegian cruise ship Breakaway recorded an extraordinary passage from the Bahamas to New York over New Years. As Mass is quick to point out, the meteorologists clearly predicted this storm and the captain decided to sail right into the most dangerous part anyway. As some commentators pointed out, other than some serious discomfort to the 4000 passengers, some wet floors and no doubt some water damage, it wasn’t a disaster. As top-heavy as those cruise ships look, apparently they have sufficient stability. Go figure.

My take on it is that the captain has to factor in the real possibility of breakdowns. It’s all nothing more serious than mal de mer until there’s some kind of breakdown. Lose an engine or have an electronics meltdown in this stuff and all off a sudden it’s a different situation entirely.


Dale Jepsen One Design Regatta – Bellingham Bay Sends Dinghies Scurrying Home Saturday, Delivers Perfect Conditions Sunday

Dale Jepsen One Design Regatta – Bellingham Bay Sends Dinghies Scurrying Home Saturday, Delivers Perfect Conditions Sunday

Flying Junior dinghy found. Skipper and crew nowhere to be found. Where are the kids?

That scenario has got to be a race organizer’s worst nightmare. But that’s what the race organizers at Bellingham YC’s Dale Jepsen One Design Regatta faced for a few moments on Saturday.

Quickly, skipper and crew were found on shore, quite healthy and happy and somewhat oblivious to the commotion they’d caused. Regatta chairman Mike Poulos let them know that they’d freaked everybody out and if you leave the course, particularly if you leave your boat there, TELL SOMEBODY.

The good news is that everybody was fine. Even the boat came through unscathed! No doubt lessons were learned all the way around.

But the regatta’s real hero was Carlos Abisambra. When the wind squalls ran through Bellingham Bay just as the dinghies were reaching the starting area for an 11 am start, the Bay was littered with overturned boats. At least eight were over simultaneously. It was quite a sight.

I’d say a couple of gusts were in the low to mid 30 knots, but the Bellingham Buoy never recorded more than 30. However, the private “Viewpoint” station on shore, cited by Sailflow, had a gust of 45 mph (39 knots) and another of 40 mph. Regardless, it was nasty.viewcrest

Carlos smartly tucked himself and his Laser in some protected waters to wait out the worst of the winds and see how things played out. Sure enough the race committee rather pointedly sent those of us in the starting area home, probably about the time they found the empty FJ. Carlos wondered if he could help, and headed to a different, nearby capsized FJ with two tired and cold girls who were clearly struggling. With the help of the less exhausted of the two girls, Carlos righted the boat and saw them on their way home. In the meantime, he was returned to his drifting Laser and sailed back in.

Carlos Abisambra in action.

Once in the harbor, he and others including Mike Powell and Miles Johannessen of the 505 fleet heard that an abandoned Laser Radial was just about to run up on the rocks, so the two grabbed a RIB and headed out. Carlos once again took to the water, swam to the Radial, righted it and sailed it home. A video of that rescue by Peter Hallett is here.

Carlos took a well-earned nap that afternoon, but found the energy and courage to sing karaoke that night. And the next day he overcame a rough start to finish third in the Laser fleet.

While Bellingham Bay dished up unsailable conditions Saturday, it came through with flying colors on Sunday. The day started with 12-15, diminishing to <8 for the sixth and final race. The RC did a great job keeping everything moving, and all the classes enjoyed great racing. The 505s were out in force with a fleet of 21 boats, with Paul Von Grey and Kerry Poe winning by a single point over the second and third place finishers who finished tied. The Tasars showed up with five boats, the Lasers had 11 starters and the Radials and FJs has six boats each. Results here.

Tantivy MOB Recovery, Planning and Preparation Were Key

Tantivy MOB Recovery, Planning and Preparation Were Key

During last Saturday’s Scatchet Head Race, Gina Layton fell overboard during a tack. It could happen to anyone. Luckily, it happened on Stuart Burnell’s Tantivy. Burnell not only has practiced man overboard drills, he’s had real life experience with them. Stuart has taken the time to write this tale up in the hopes that the rest of us can take something from it as well.

Gina looked perfectly dry, warm and not very traumatized at all back at the dock. – KMH

By Stuart Burnell

In the 10+ years I have owned Tantivy, we have had two people go overboard, one in 2014 and now one in 2016. Of the nine crew on Tantivy this weekend, five have fallen overboard from some boat at some point. I slipped and went overboard off a T-bird in 1996.

The point is that in every case we all found ourselves going overboard so fast there was nothing to done except to enjoy the ride. It can, and does, happen.

On this race the wind was in the low teens before we left the dock for this CYC Seattle race. Crew members Paul, Meg and I were discussing which head sail we were going to use and the rest of the crew were busy rigging the boat.

We started without a headsail, hoisted the kite and took off. Jan Anderson took a few very good photos of Tantivy right after the start and you can clearly see we did not have the Lifeslings in place.

After 15 to 30 minutes we gybed to port and crossed Balance and Sachem. Right after that, crew member Suzette noticed the two Lifeslings usually mounted on the stern rail were not in place. She immediately took care of that.

If the Slings had not been in place it would have taken a lot longer to get Gina out of the water.

Everyone had life jackets on.

Steps as executed:

Crew hollers man overboard!

We have a designated spotter, who in this case was Suzette who moved to the back of the boat and deployed a Lifesling.

Trimmers and foredeck stayed at their posts to complete our tack as did the foredeck crew. We dropped the headsail (our #3 does not furl). The trimmers went forward to help secure it.

Tantivy, seen here smoking along downwind, was missing its Lifeslings on the stern rail. Fortunately, the mistake was caught soon after this picture was taken.
Tantivy, seen here smoking along downwind, was missing its Lifeslings on the stern rail. Fortunately, the mistake was caught soon after Jan Anderson took this photo.

Once the jib was secured, the main trimmer and driver maneuvered the boat back to Gina. We did the standard figure eight maneuver and rounded down wind and stopped the 20 feet from her. Paul and Suzette pulled Gina to the stern where we deployed the swim ladder and pulled her to and over the transom.

The system worked well for us. We do have the block and tackle to bring some one over the side rather than the transom. Both man overboard retrievals (2014 and 2016) have been in 20 plus knots of wind and in 3+ foot waves. Over the transom always seems safest for us.

We soon found ourselves aground and unable to get off the bottom by sailing. So, our race ended when we had to use the engine to get back into deep water.


I think getting blown down on to a weather beach could have been avoided. After Gina grabbed the Lifesling, I was more concerned with stopping the boat than positioning the it. We could have possibly pointed the bow away from the beach, which would have allowed a little more time to hoist the jib and get control of the boat once she was completely recovered.

While we have done a number of man overboard practices, we have never tried to get the boat going again without using the engine.

This summer you will see Tantivy doing that as a drill.

Practice Practice Practice

Having done two real live man overboard maneuvers I can say doing the drills is so very important. We trained with Bill Walton before the Vic Maui in 1994, 1996, 2000, and we did it before the Van Isle 360 in 2011 and 2013. In 2013 we had everyone on board drive the boat and run though the various other positions: spotter, driver, main trim and sail handling, plus who went for the block and tackle.

Now we will work on getting the sails back up and racing again. While I feel really bad about having someone fall overboard, I feel very good about how well the crew performed under very stressful conditions. To my knowledge, three of the crew we had on Saturday had never done a man overboard drill.

Links: The Sailing Foundation Lifesling Page, a video of the Lifesling in use.

Another Scatchet Head Scorcher

Another Scatchet Head Scorcher

Got Seamanship?

There’s nothing like a man overboard incident in a racing situation to see who’s got seamanship and who doesn’t.

Yep, if you haven’t heard, there was at least one overboard incident in last Saturday’s Scatchet Head Race. It was handled so well there really was no reason to hear about it. Unless you want to learn something from it.58919

It all started when Gina Layton was deposited in the drink during a tack. Skipper Stuart Burnell and the Tantivy crew handled Gina’s swimming sojourn with consummate skill, getting her back onboard within a minute and a half and then getting themselves out of a grounding as swimmer and boat had drifted onto the shallow shelf off Edmonds before getting stuck there.

Nope, no issues there. Another boat even stood by just in case.

Burnell has written up the rescue and lessons learned.

The issue and some questions apply to everyone else who was out there. How many of us would react as well? How many of us have even deployed a Lifesling in rehearsal? (a fair number, I’m sure, but not nearly all.)

And how many of us take this as a sign that we need to practice, prepare and talk about man overboard and other situations more often? Seamanship, in my view, is mostly about preparing the crew for such a situation.

The first step in preparation may be listening to Neptune’s warnings. I’m thinking Gina’s plunge was one of those.

The Race

There was a race, and what a race it was. The run to Scatchet Head was fast, and the mid 20-kt gusts rewarded the planing hulls and punished heavier boats that stayed in displacement mode too much of the time. And made for some great Jan Anderson photos.

The beat back was very puffy, and sharp driving and main trim in the puffs could make a big difference one way or another.

There were a few surprises, the first being that the wind died, not built as we got further north. Another surprise was a slight right hand shift after rounding the mark that helped some of the boats coming from behind.

The stories will be trickling out over the next couple of weeks, and I plan on collecting a few then inciting a few rivalries before Three Tree Point.

In the meantime, there were a few great performances that deserve mention.

On Double Take we had to take a couple transoms to get back to the left side of the course. Jan Anderson photos.
On Double Take we had to take a couple transoms to get back to the left side of the course. Jan Anderson photos.

After I reminded Charlie and his great Absolutely great crew one too many times about last year’s dismasting, they sailed an amazing race (on the former Voodoo Child) and handily won the very tough class 7. Congrats Charlie! Here and Now must have had things rolling along downwind and certainly looked good coming back to weather. On Double Take it took us a frightfully long time to catch up to her again. And don’t you just love it when a Thunderbird (Selchie) wins her class in those conditions?

Those two TP 52s, Glory and Smoke, are ridiculously fast both downwind and upwind in those conditions. Crossfire, the Reichel/Pugh 55 hit 26 knots. We may hear more from Crossfire‘s navigator Bruce Hedrick on that score if we can pry him away from the navigation hardware and software he’s working on for Vic-Maui.

Results here. Jan Anderson’s photos here.

Stay tuned, I’ll be back before Three Tree Point.