At the start of the fourth race day of the SAMM Spring season the winds were higher than the strengths forecast which did not bode well for the competitors, and so it turned out.
In a 10 knot wind, Sirocco (Robert, Janice & Ernie) crossed the start line alone at the big boat start time as Mistral had retired a few minutes before. She would not steer, a re-occurring problem that still has not been resolved. The dinghies followed 10 minutes later.
Within minutes the first of many capsizes happened when one of the most experienced helms, Julian aboard his Topaz, was caught by a very sudden gust of at least 16 knots whilst out on his trapeze. He was over in a flash but quickly righted the boat and continued.
As the Whaly support boat was taking Mistral’s crew to shore from their mooring, the wind again suddenly gusted, causing the second capsize of the day. The Whaly was called, but took a while to get back to assist and, in this time, the third capsize occurred. The first crew could be seen getting their boat upright so the Whaly went to solo sailor Norman and stood by as he battled to get back in his boat and sailing again.
The fourth capsize was George and Dianne and in trouble as the rudder pintle pins snapped leaving the boat helpless. Almost immediately Vernon, on the second Quba, went over, the fifth capsize. After much effort Vernon got back aboard but came upright with the wind fully behind him which pitch rolled him again into the water. He was separated from his boat which drifted away towards the rocks. Whilst the Whaly was towing the Laser 2000 to shore Norman was swimming yet again, sixth capsize.
With so many boats in trouble at the same time, a quick call was made to “Pro Vela Sailing” asking if they could assist with their rib. The Whaly managed to pick up Vernon, while the lads from Pro Vela sorted Norman out. They then went after Vernon’s Quba, which had come to a stop against the rocks and was in danger of being damaged, and brought her safely back to the slipway.
Although the underlying wind did not increase much above 10 knots, the freak sudden gusts and the many capsizes led to the “Abandon Race” decision after 2 of the proposed 4 laps. A great disappointment to the two crews who had managed to stay upright.