It was smooth sailing for Cairns entry eDoc at Sealink Magnetic Island Race Week 2011, until today that is.
Drama unfolded near the first turning mark for the 15m offshore racing catamaran, sailing in the Multihull division when the crew lost control of the boat and she capsized.
Skipper, Gavin Le Sueur said it was a combination of errors. ‘It was entirely my mistake. I can see everything that I did wrong and it all happened in beautiful sequence,’ he said.
‘We didn’t have anyone on the main ready to ease the traveller. We bore off to come down to the mark and I went across to leeward to have a look and while I was down there, the windward hull started to lift.
‘I jumped back and when I should have bore away with the increased power, we got powered up by a bit of breeze and it was my gut instinct to round up and she just kept on going, and we just sort of hung on as she went over,’ Gavin explained.
The crew onboard eDoc at the time included wife Catherine, children Estelle, Fletcher and Baden and Kai Allison who hails from Mallacoota in Victoria.
Gavin continued ‘Fletcher was below decks when the capsized happened and we got him out via the exit hatch. No injuries were sustained and there was plenty of time to assemble on the hull in the water.’
Townsville’s Terry Dodd was on standby and sent one of his professional Pacific Marine salvage teams out and they set up to right the boat.
‘I climbed up the hull – big climb about 15 metres in the air, and put a line over the top, and put it around the beam and took it out to the rescue boat, which towed it back over.
‘Before they did that we all got off. We didn’t want anyone on the boat, so that way if the boat was damaged then that was all. People are very important,’ Gavin said.
‘Once she righted, she began sailing with no one on board. She still had a full main, we managed to get the headsail sheets off, but the mainsheet wouldn’t come. We raced up alongside and we eventually got on her.’
eDoc Capsized during the last day of races of the Magnetic Island Race Week - SeaLink Magnetic Island Race Week Media
Gavin said it was a day he didn’t wish repeated.
‘My first choc top! Not entirely want I planned. It’s the first time I’ve put a boat over, but not something I want happening again. A lot of lessons learnt and thankfully everyone is ok.’
Gavin is an avid multihull sailor who has lived aboard various catamarans and for many years has enjoyed cruising the Pacific with his family.
The 23 year old boat was built in 1988 in Cairns and is a 50 foot catamaran, 30 foot wide.
This was Gavin’s first series with the catamaran since sailing her shorthanded back from the Philippines where he bought the boat.
‘The race is close to Cairns and it’s local so we thought we would support them’ Gavin said.
Gavin’s wife Catherine was co-skipper and has over 40,000 nautical miles under her belt, including a race around Australia and a Tasman crossing.
Estelle, Gavin’s 18 year old daughter, has spent half of her life at sea and is keen to drive, currently training for long distance offshore races.
Baden, Gavin’s 14 year old son is a Laser sailor, on hand to dive in and climb up whenever needed.
Nine year old Fletcher is the junior crew.
Kai Allison was on hand to provide some much needed muscle on board, and was competing in his first race series.
Gavin and crew sailed 250miles from Cairns down to Magnetic Island over a good three days and will be sailing back up to Cairns tomorrow.
‘We’ll sail during the day and tuck in each night. But for now we’re back at the marina and we’ll be at the presentation party tonight.’