Below is an email from my partner at Dolphin Marine in Norfolk, VA. As the local Hobie dealer we try to stay involved with the local racing fleet (32) and Roy Olive is nice enough to use one of his World Cats (he’s an official dealer) as a committee boat. He was doing just that for last weekend’s regatta.
Be advised, Roy was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam and he’s also an experienced sailor. If he is on the water with a chase boat during a storm I’m going to feel a lot better.
Almost every sailor who’s a speed junkie has ignored a bad forecast to push the envelope and this was a classic example. It’s happened to me and after surveying the damage I immediately regreted it. It’s not worth the money much less the potential for injury.
We had a great turnout…33 boats preregistered and 29showed up. We had
a Shark fleet of 6 boats, some A Cats, F-18’s, and numerous Hobie 14, 16
and Nacra’s. I think we had 4 classes. Got off 5 races on Saturday.
Event at Fort Story went well with a good time had by all.
Sunday was a different story. The wx was predicted to be bad but at
8:30 it appeared we could get off a couple of races if we started at 10
so a decision was made to set the course. We went over on flat seas and
light winds to the state park, got the marks set and the committee boat
in place. That’s when hell broke loose! 24 boats left the beach and we
were just ready to start the first race when the skies darkened and the
winds started to build. At approximately 10am we had a full blown
squall developing with winds to 40mph. Immediately we had many boats
capsized and people in the water. Several boats lost sails, one got
caught in a fish trap and lost a mast. We found ourselves in waves that
had quickly built to 6 to 7 feet and a short interval. Two chase boats
had to retire as the conditions were beyond their capabilities. The
World Cat 330 was the place to be. We used it to police up the
scattered and devastated fleet. We lost track of one boat and skipper
that was approx 1 to 2 miles off the beach so I contacted Coast Guard
for assistance with search and rescue. Later we discovered he made it
to shore. One of the sharks was running under a torn jib, when the crew
got thrown overboard. We rescued him with the committee boat. The
Shark eventually made it to shore.
Needless to say it was an expensive day for many cat sailors!
Fortunately no loss of life or injuries but it had to potential to be
Lesson learned was to heed the forecast and to keep someone on shore
with a radio to account for boats and crews. We lost the marks and they
are probably halfway to France by now.
Hope you had a better weekend
Roy Harris Olive
Dolphin Marine, Inc.
8166 Shore Drive, Suite 3C
Norfolk, VA 23518
Roy, thanks for all you do.