2015 June 10 – Dispatches from the field


While the leaders continued to bash forward through harrying conditions, the ongoing onslaught of an angry wind during the last 24 hours had teams finding shelter, resting, repairing, and waiting to fight another day. A few of the teams took time to reach out to Race Central. Here are their unfiltered reports that reveal the kind enthusiasm of people living along the race course and the camaraderie of racers:

Graeme from Elsie Piddock: Seriously tested in Johnstone Strait and the northern part of the Strait of Georgia. “It was nuking in Johnstone Strait and the Strait of Georgia and we were amazed by the number of boats that were coming out to cheer us on, despite the conditions. A First Nations fellow came out in a rowboat to deliver sockeye salmon (that they are having for dinner) and cans labeled candy (likely the highly prized sweet smoked salmon).” They were visited by a SAR boat, but it only came out to ensure safety and take pictures (Ed – does anyone know anyone at the Chatham station? We’d love to share those with all of you). The conditions were so bad the crew of the Piddock were worried and the boat was built for that. Once they “crossed the line” they threw themselves a halfway party with costumes and candy. Dry suits off for the first time right now.  (1700ish PST)

Report from Nels on Broderna: “All is well, were demasted and drifting in Johnstone Straight in the middle of the night, really. Nobody hurt and we have a tow in route… More to come later… But we can not continue with 2 short masts. I’ll try to call you later tomorrow. Tough weather out here tried. Waiting for a window… we need a stronger boat.”  He’d be a good test pilot… for things made out of other really strong things.  RCMP arrived to give them a tow at 0100 this morning and they have officially bowed out of the race.

A text from Team Coastal Express:  “Well a wet and bumpy ride across on reefed jib alone this AM but the wind is a bit less on this side. Too bumpy for us to beat up the coast in comfort. We are wimps. Be safe and visit Gibsons is what we are doing. Oh and it appears from the appearance from the SARS boat as we pulled into Gibsons that we were MIA. SPOT was blinking but it appears it never came out of sleep mode this AM when we left. Lesson learned. Turn it off and on every day. Oh, please can you clarify when chase boat will chase us all down? Given this sunny weather we are afraid we will get caught ASAP. Thanks so much. Stopped in pub to watch the Chicago Tampa game – the rats ashore made us.” Sounds like they are making friends in Gibsons!

Superfriends have hauled out in Parksville because they are taking on water with the bow delaminated on their San Juan 21. They have assessed that the prudent path is to exit the race.

Puffin was waiting for weather and doing repairs on failed tabernacle that threatened a dismasting – “Typical day at the dock with Sea Runner, visited by Y Triamoto crew” (who exited the race previously).

Sea Runner: After a timed surf landing to ride a wave over a reef and to the safety of a beach, Team Sea Runner climbed the mast of Team Puffin to fish down a halyard that had escaped, and later jumped in the water and pulled their boat through False Narrows (alongside Team Puffin, doing the same) against a foul current when no other method would work. Hard work, cold work, but they did it. After a brief nose poke into deteriorating conditions they spent the night  in Nanaimo and have acquired new pedals for their auxiliary power and are looking for new yards. They are down but not out, working on repairs to their boat and spirit, and would like a tow from whatever helicopter seems to be towing Team Elsie Piddock. (Don’t start rumors – that was a joke from a tired Sea Runner amazed like the rest of us at how fast Team Elsie Piddock is going).

While the feats of the boats at the front of the race are impressive, and their motivations clear, the seamanship and tenacity of the teams on smaller vessels are no less monumental. More affected by seas, sleeping wet, eating cold, nowhere near an opportunity of more classic recognition – the first four have been hard fought days and the sheer will to continue despite all of the discomfort and disappointment is heroic beyond measure. Our hats are off to all of you. Your spirit is what this race is all about.