2006 World PDRacer Sailboat Championship Race - Boat Rescue

At every messabout, we seem to end up having rescue situations. Magnolia Beach has the wind coming mostly from the south, so it comes over the land and blows across the bay. The great part about that is we get steady high winds without all the choppy water. The bad part is that if you break something and don't have oars with you, then you are headed for the chemical plant which is about 3.5 miles across the bay, or a 20 minute drive around to try and find you.

We needed to setup the leeward mark to get the loaner boat competition under way, so I sent him out to place it. He went out, dropped the mark at the perfect spot, but didn't seem to be coming back. Looked like he got into irons, or something was wrong with his rig, so I sent out Phil with the other loaner boat and tried to muster up a bigger boat to go pick him up. Phil got close to Andrew and went back and forth, looked like he was having problems retrieving Andrew or possibly forgot a tow rope. I pressed Gerard into service, he has rescued others before, and by the time he got there, it looked like Andrew was making windward progress back to the beach. Turns out that Andrew just lost his hat and was looking for it, didn't need any help at all.

Andrew Creamer was the next to come to tragedy, he was practicing going back and forth, suddenly half his sail was down or pulled off. No rescue for him though, he pulled out a set of oars and rowed himself back to the beach.

Bill Giles had lent his boat the day before to Phil and Andrew. They were zooming back and forth trying to set the next world peak speed record, and were able to match it, but just couldn't break it. However they did break Bill's rudder, atleast cracking it and significantly weakening it.

Bill was sailing around during the first playoff race between Andrew and Phil. He was doing just fine when I heard a *SNAP*, then looked out to see him just 30 feet off shore, and a white board floating away from him. Bill said "help help", then frantically dug around in his boat for his paddle. Thinking it was his centerboard, I yelled to him "you can sail without your centerboard" - the PD's bare flat sides will give you about 60 degrees off the wind. He replied "that was my rudder". ... uh, oh.

The wind was blowing him away from us, he was the only boat on the water, Gerard had already come back in and was nowhere to be found (think he went to the bathroom), he had been sailing around all this time for the other rescue operations and deserved a break. Phil launched immediately, and I was repairing one of the sprit sails. By the time I got it fixed and sailed down to them, Bill was already down at the leeward mark while Phil seemed to be dancing around him. I think Phil threw the rope to Bill and then dropped it, and was trying to re-connect with him.

I had tied a 50' rope to the stern of my boat and sailed down below Bill. I told Phil that I would get him, and then tacked to sail up wind across Bill's stern, pulling the rope which Bill could pickup. Just as I got upwind of Bill, I luffed up and came to rest just a couple feet away. I had Bill take one wrap around his mast and then hold it by hand incase he had to let go.

Right as I was telling him this, Bill looked towards the bow of his boat and his eyes went as big as golf balls. I couldn't see over there, it was the far side of my sail. Just as I ducked to look, I caught the final seconds as Phil RAMMED Bill !!! What, was Bill some game fish and I was illegally stealing Phil's catch of the day? :)

He put a sizable hole in Bill's transom, but it was above the waterline so I could continue pulling him back without much worry about him taking on extra water. We started sailing for the beach making good headway and then the wind mostly quit. I was some nice private time to talk with Bill, then a little breeze came back and Bill pulled his sail in to draw which enabled us to make the headway we were with the heavier air.

His boat would round up a little then the tow rope would go taught, pulling it back on course. This had the opposite effect on my boat, when it would tug, I would be pulled to point down wind just a little so it appeared that we were having our own 2 boat race, and I was loosing !

What I really wanted to try was to get behind him and lash the boats together. Then I could push him, and we would sort of form a grout-less brick schooner. But Bill said he couldn't remove the rudder on the water.... oh well, next time.

We were on the final tack and I had to sail down below him to get up on the other side, the rope came above his shoulder and pulled him (and his boat) backwards. Sorry Bill, my bad. He was so close too! Then some people on the shore tied together all the rope they had, threw it to me, and I brought it to him. They then pulled him into the shore from there. Which sprung an idea, we could have an innertube with a sail on it, and 1000 feet of floating line to send out next time. Might be able to sell that one on late nite TV.

Later Skip Johnson seemed to be having problems, but Tim Cowden paddled out to check on him. I didn't hear if he needed help or not.

From Phil Keck:
The following day, Andrew and I had the first round of competition for the loaner boats, and he whooped me. Bad. Real bad. While we were racing, several other duckers (including Bill) were out on their boats just kind of sailing around and warming up. So Andrew finished wailing on me, and as I was heading back for shore, Andrew hollered that Bill's rudder had broken off and that I should go and get the rudder, and Shorty would go and pull him back to shore. I sailed off and picked up the rudder, and figured that since I was so close to Bill, I'd swing over and see if I could help with anything. He tossed me a rope, and I started to pull him in, but the rope slipped out of my hand. At this point, Shorty had made it out to us.

Now, if I had half a brain, I would have defaulted to someone with much greater skill and experience than myself (namely, Shorty). But we all already know that I didn't do that.

Shorty and I were sailing around Bill, and I went for another swing past him to pick up the rope, and as I went forward to grab the rope, I realized that I was headed straight for Bills boat, running full speed. I slammed into the bow of his boat, and poked an approx. 5"x5" hole right above the waterline. It was at this point that I figured I had provided just about all of the help I could hope to provide, so I sailed off with my tail between my legs and let Shorty take over.

In return for putting a hole in his boat, Bill....didn't kill me. Which would have been well within his rights to do.

Once we got back to shore, Andrew Creamer provided Bill with a replacement rudder, we duct taped the hole in the bow of his boat, and he was ready to race.

Two lessons learned: First, Bill is an incredibly nice guy; and second, should I ever need to use a boat to ram someone else again, I'll call John Wright to build that boat, because I know he can build 'em strong enough to whatever I'll need it to do.

Oh, and the race was exciting too.

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