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Around Alone mates go to Tim Kent's aid

by Yachtracing.com on 23 Jun 2003
Tim Kent was competing in the Bermuda 1-2 race on Friday, June 20, when his keel bulb (the stabilizing force of the yacht) fell off Everest Horizontal causing the boat to flip upside down.

Kent and his companion onboard, Rick McKenna from Elm Grove, Wisconsin, were suddenly faced with the grim situation of being under water in the Atlantic Ocean with an unruly broken yacht above them and 110 miles of ocean to Bermudan land.

Kent was strapped to the yacht with a tether, which he disconnected while holding his breath and swam to the surface. In the chaos of the disastrous situation McKenna was also able to swim from inside the cabin to the surface.

They clung to the upturned hull of Everest Horizontal hoping that they could find a way to survive. The darkening sky left them in an eerie state of disrepair as the winds reached 30 knots and waves swept over them at 10-15 feet.

Kent and McKenna scrambled to climb back onboard the turtled hull and find some grip to hold them from the violent seas. Each sailor made it to a rudder and held on for their life. A wave came from the side and swept McKenna off the boat again. He swam back to board the capsized yacht and Kent begged him to hold on tighter.

As the boat capsized, with the rig and sails dipping below 90 degrees and sinking into the ocean, Kent grabbed a capsule of pyrotechnics, shot a rocket flare in the air and clutched the emergency capsule closely on his underwater voyage to the upturned hull.

He tried to grab the EPIRB as well, but water rushed in from all directions leaving him to only fight for his own air.

As both distressed sailors hugged the rudders aboard Everest Horizontal, a 50-foot racing yacht, they spotted a luminous light behind them which was clearly a large cruise ship headed their way.

Kent opened his capsule of pyrotechnics and continued to launch nine more emergency rocket flares into the dark Atlantic sky.

The Nordic Empress, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, slowly approached the stricken sailors.

Guests onboard gathered on deck for the uncommon scene. Two officers from the ship and three crew approached Everest Horizontal in a life boat and threw out a life ring. McKenna was first to dive off the capsized yacht and swim for the ring of safety. Kent watched beneath him as water gushed through his beloved boat, sweeping his only life possessions into the sea.

Sleeping bags, jackets, food and family mementos disappeared. Kent followed McKenna, diving into the ocean for the life ring.

'I was pulled onto the lifeboat like a dead mackerel,' said Kent after the ordeal. 'I am so happy to be rescued, and at the same time it is a bittersweet occasion because my entire life just disappeared before my eyes. Everything I own in this world is on that boat.'

Kent's fellow skippers from the Around Alone race went to work.

Alan Paris of Bermuda and Brad Van Liew of America have started research to execute a salvage of Kent's boat, knowing that it is his livelihood and continuing the spirit of camaraderie only seen in the Around Alone race.

Kent, Paris and Van Liew spent September 2002 through May 2003 as rivals in the Around Alone, a brutal solo race around the globe where competitors are both at odds for position and a network of safety for each other.

At this time Paris is developing plans for an expedition boat to search for the upturned hull of Everest Horizontal. Van Liew is recruiting divers and packing his own bag to head to Bermuda and then to sea to attempt a recovery the boat.

The salvage of Everest Horizontal is uncertain at this time.

'I hope we can find her and save her,' said Kent. 'I am thankful that my friends sprung into action on my behalf. It is a costly effort and we don't know if we can find the boat and tow her to the shores of Bermuda.'

Van Liew is optimistic and ready to embark on the recovery mission. 'Tim is like family to me and I think we have no choice but to get on the water and attempt to salvage the boat for him. It will be a tough job to find her and then a tougher job to disassemble the rigging underwater and drag her to safety without severe damage.'

About Tim Kent: Tim Kent is an active 50 year old father of two daughters, and an avid sailor from Milwaukee. He has worked in educational publishing for twenty years, and has also been an auto mechanic and managed a boat business.

He has sailed actively since the age of eleven, logging miles on oceans and the Great Lakes. He has competed in single and short-handed distance races, and was first to finish and first in class in the 330 mile Chicago-to-Mackinac single-handed offshore competition.

Bitten by the solo sailing bug, Tim Kent became the driving force behind the formation of the Everest Horizontal team.

Tim Kent successfully completed the Around Alone race of 2002-3, winning a 2nd place trophy in Class II (the 40-50 foot division).
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