That word pretty much describes the events this day. The fleet enthusiastically sailed out on a long run toward the starting area in a stiff but manageable 12-15 kt. wind. As the race committee set up the course and the last Jets were arriving in the starting area, the wind began to build and gusts approached 20 kt. Team Whalen and Team Hennon retired before the start of the race, looking to get a head start on the 2 mile beat back to the club into an 18 kt. wind. As they gazed back at the race, many boats were pinching up into the gusts but things overall seemed under control. It appeared that the leaders (Parker, Zaugg, Gemperline, Michos) were flying their chutes on the long run even as gusts began to exceed 20 kt. As they rounded the gate and began the second windward leg, gusts were regularly measured above 20 kt. with maxima in the upper 20s according to the race committee. Weather observations from the lake confirmed their measurements, with the peak wind occurring just after noon with a gust above 30 mph:
Boats began to capsize all over the course. Grace and Pacheco went over with the chute, snapping Tom’s tiller in the process. Eitnthoven swamped and could not recover without aid – her crew sliced open her fingers on the centerboard and had to make a trip to the emergency room for stitches. The race was abandoned but many in the fleet were not aware as the race committee boat pulled up anchor to aid several capsized boats. Those still upright continued all the way up the beat and then began their second run toward a finish line that did not exist. Another puff in the upper twenties put Zaugg and Michos over within seconds of each other. It would be over 2 hours before they could be rescued and safely returned to shore. There were too many tales to retell here, but lots of belongings were recovered in the water when other boats returning home “sailed through the debris field” of the capsized Jets.
Apparently the fun wasn’t over at the ramp. Hennon did not sufficiently tie the boat to the trailer and when the car began to pull the boat out, the weight of several gallons of water rushing aft pulled the boat off the back of the trailer. Unfortunately, the boat also crashed off the side of the trailer, allowing the trailer roller to do this to the hull:
After spending a significant time in the water, Marion finally got towed in and pulled out of the lake only to have water in the tanks rush back and pull his boat off the trailer as well. Lots of other boats had broken lines, blocks, and other rigging that were being worked on well into the afternoon. An emergency run to West Marine got several boats back in working order.
Tom Grace said afterward that it was probably the worst day he can remember in terms of wreckage to a fleet. In my relatively brief experience over the last 10 years I must say that I agree. The forecasters are calling for a more pleasant day tomorrow with winds in the 7-10 kt range. We lost a couple of boats today but most of the fleet will be back looking to jump into Nationals contention tomorrow.