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10 Jul 2014
Navy to the Rescue...Baffling Cup decisions...Kiwis start in Europeans
Welcome to Sail-World.com's New Zealand e-magazine for July 9, 2014
|The view of the yacht Django II from Otago's bridge wing as the ship considers the best way to effect a rescue in 4-metre swells New Zealand Defence Force |
By any measure, the rescue of three crew from the stricken J/111 Django, was a remarkable feat of seamanship by the Royal New Zealand Navy and the yacht crew.
Conditions in the area were not nice. It was tough enough ashore in the 40kt plus winds on Tuesday night, let alone in the Pacific Ocean in 50-60kts winds and a 4-5metre sea.
Yesterday's rescue contracts with the tragedy of the Cheeki Rafiki, a Beneteau First 40.7 which capsized after losing her keel in the Atlantic just six weeks ago.
Both yachts were returning home after races. The British yacht had four crew aboard, the New Zealand one had three.
Both incidents started similarly, with the crews realising they had a problem and contacting a shore base. But that is where the two situations diverge.
|Preparing the swimmer's gantry, for LT Simon Wasley, ship's diver, to dive into the water to further assist the rescue New Zealand Defence Force |
Django quite correctly went straight to a Mayday call status, activating a response from the Rescue Co-Ordination Centre in New Zealand.
They also got their liferaft rigged, stopped and waited for assistance. Maybe with broken steering in those conditions, they had little choice but to stop. However, Cheeki Raffiki kept sailing with a leaky boat, and kept the liferaft stowed in the boat.
From there, we don't know what happened to Cheeki Raffiki, as she sailed away from her last known position. It took several days and a restarted search before she was found.
Django had little choice but to stay put, and the crew sensibly made the decision to get off the boat when help arrived. Whether the boat would survive the night is largely irrelevant. The simple fact is that you aren't going to stay around and find out. Trying to evacuate in the night, in those conditions would have been very difficult at best.
|The stricken yacht Django viewed from HMNZS Otago New Zealand Defence Force |
It is hard to envisage how the Royal NZ Navy could have trained for such a rescue. But they certainly had the resources aboard, made the right decisions at the right time, had a good plan and executed properly - even though they were under pressure of nightfall, and very testing sea state.
The courage of Lt Simon Wasley, in kitting up, diving into the ocean and swimming a line across to the stricken yacht, almost defies belief.
Doing such an act in calm weather, and flat seas may seem a little routine. But in 50kt winds and five metre seas - you have to have an awful lot of confidence in your own ability to survive. How he was able to swim in those conditions with a line dragging behind him is quite amazing.
The yacht crew seems to have done everything right, and remarkably are safe and ashore in New Zealand less than 24 hours after being evacuated.
|A very happy Django skipper Ben Costello with crewmates Bex Heikema and Andrew Cooke- Django crew arrive ashore at Devonport Naval Base July 9, 2014 New Zealand Defence Force |
So often these incidents end in tragedy. But this one has ended in smiles, gratitude and respect.
That does not mean there should not be an Inquiry. It is only from these events that we can learn - even if to show that the actions taken were correct. Maybe there is something that could have been done better. But if it does prove to be a textbook rescue, it is a textbook lesson that should be widely publicised, not just in NZ, but internationally.
In this edition, we bring you the best reports we can at this stage. Plus two audio interviews with the Commanding officer of HMNZS Otago, and the Rescue Co-Ordination Centre. We have also obtained reasonably high resolution images of the rescue, which while slightly out of focus, certainly show the scene on the water - and don't forget how much the camera flattens off any sea. Double or treble the sight that you see in the images, and you will start to appreciate the sea state and conditions.
|- San Diego America's Cup World Series - Fleet Race © ACEA /Gilles Martin-Raget |
This morning the America's Cup Event Authority announced the list of Venues for the 35th America's Cup had been cut to two - with Chicago being dropped from the list.
Staying in the hunt are Bermuda, a tax haven, which seems to be driving the decision. Plus we suspect that they have offered the highest event fee.
Also in the frame is San Diego, venue for the 1992 and 1995 America's Cups. In some ways, San Diego is a credible venue, as any port that has hosted two America's cups would be.
|Ian Gibbs' original Half Tonner, Swuzzlebubble, now owned by Peter Morton (GBR) is topping the leaderboard at the Half Ton Classics Cup 2014 Fiona Brown Communications |
But talk of holding the Match inside San Diego Bay makes little sense. It is a confined stretch of water, notable for considerable shipping and traffic passage. Will the harbour be closed for racing? Will it be closed to allow the teams to practice ahead of the racing?
By our estimate, the available leg length is 2.2nm, assuming the wind is blowing straight down the channel. In San Francisco, the leg length was 3.6nm and took about six minutes to cover the downwind leg.
Expressed in Auckland terms, 2.2nm is the same as starting a race off the Tank Farm on the western Viaduct and having the windward mark off the Masonic Hotel on the Devonport waterfront. The boats don't even get as far as North Head - and that is an America's Cup course???
|Volvo Cork Week 2014 - 1720, Heroes & Villains © Tim Wright / Photoaction.com |
San Diego is notorious for its lighter winds. Some say that the AC62 will be more challenging for the crews as they attempt to foil in such conditions and will need a wider range of crew skills than sailing in the narrow 10kt wind band, single direction breeze that prevailed in San Francisco.
But if the venue is light winds in San Diego, why sail high-performance foiling catamarans in such a venue? Clearly they come into their own in a big breeze, and that is what gets the attention of the fans. Sailing conditions and spectacle should be what is driving this venue selection. The best sailing venue was dropped in the first cut.
What is happening with the venue selection for the America's Cup is just baffling to most Cup-watchers.
|Volvo 65 Team Alvimedica practicing in Newport, RI George Bekris ©|
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|2014 Finn Silver Cup Robert Deaves/Finn Class© |
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|Fantasy - Day 1 Half Ton Cup 2014 Fiona Brown Communications |
|49er and 49erFX European Championships 2014 © Mick Anderson/Sailingpix.dk |
|2014 Nacra 17 European Championship Antoine Beysens|
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