Luck in the Pacific - Sail Magazine

Luck in the Pacific

Guy Wilding has been out for a paddle in his 18-foot kayak every day for months, since moving to Honolulu from Sydney, Australia. July 20 seemed like any other day under the blue skies of the tradewinds until, as luck would have it, his paddle broke and he was dumped into the drink. This wasn't good, but Wilding swam to the kayak and grabbed on. He tried to get in - to "rescue," in kayak-speak -
Author:
Publish date:
SecondChanceCrewPhoto1

Guy Wilding has been out for a paddle in his 18-foot kayak every day for months, since moving to Honolulu from Sydney, Australia. July 20 seemed like any other day under the blue skies of the tradewinds until, as luck would have it, his paddle broke and he was dumped into the drink. This wasn't good, but Wilding swam to the kayak and grabbed on. He tried to get in - to "rescue," in kayak-speak - but it didn't happen. So there he was. Minutes went by. The tide was outbound, carrying him away from the beach, away from the lovely island of Oahu, upwind against the oncoming waves, toward oblivion. Without a paddle, he really couldn't do anything about it. His first thought: "I'm in trouble."

An hour went by.

Another hour.

Another.

By hour number four, with the afternoon deepening, you know this was feeling desperate. Guy knew his wife, Shelley, would surely be worried by now. But he really couldn't do anything about that, either.

A sail appeared on the horizon.

As luck would have it, the sail was coming his way. More time went by. The sail was still coming his way. Guy Wilding did what he could to make himself conspicuous, but it is easy in a seaway to be blocked from view by a wave at what could be the critical moment. Would the people on the sailboat be alert? Would they be looking around them at all?

As luck would have it, yes. They were more than alert, they were keen. The boat was a Swan 441, coming in to finish the 2,225-mile Transpacific Yacht Race, from Los Angeles to Honolulu. They had been at sea since July 4. Mary Howard, one of nine in the crew, put it well: "It's a good thing he was wearing red. We were looking for a red buoy."

The Transpac has been finishing at Diamond Head since the 1906 inaugural. The Diamond Head Buoy is red. Randy Alcorn, an ocean kayaker himself, saw something red, but not a buoy. What he saw was "this fellow trying to get into a kayak, and it just wasn't going to work. He was waving. I knew we had a rescue on our hands."

Second_ChancePhoto2

With Transpac sailors required to practice recovering overboards before they start the race, Philip Sauer's team was ready. They dropped the sails and cranked up the motor, all while keeping one crewmember assigned to the job of never taking an eye off the man in the water—the man who was growing steadily moredistant. When the crew was finally able to turn back, under power, it still seemed like forever before they were able to reach their man. But when they did they immediately deployed a Life Sling - SOP - and ran a circle around Guy Wilding, which brought the sling right to him. "It went by the book," Mary Howard said of her crew’s efforts to bring Wilding aboard.

Then the crew was able to haul Wilding aboard, only slightly hypothermic and probably, as he assessed it, not needing medical attention. He would know. As luck would have it, Guy Wilding is the kayak coach of the Sprint National Team that will soon be seeking to qualify for the 2012 Olympics. He's a big, strong athlete and savvy when it comes to the physio side of the game.

With any other rescue, Wilding could have come quietly ashore, thanked his rescuers and enjoyed a tearful reunion with Shelley, who had missed her husband and been trying to convince doubting authorities that he must be in danger. But as luck would have it, Wilding was rescued by a boat racing in a media event, the Transpac, the classic race of the Pacific Ocean, and his reunion with Shelley and their young daughter, Kali,took place in front of the cameras. Their sobs brought home just how "other" the outcome could have been.

As luck would have it, the boat's name is Second Chance.

And as luck would have it, the owners of Second Chance, Phil and Sarah Sauer, are joining the Wildings as new residents of Honolulu.

It’s a heck of a way to get to know the neighbors.

And as sure as my name is Kimball Livingston, it was one hell of a hug…

For more on Transpac 2011, including complete results, click here.

Related

Thoreau

A Thoreau Approach to Sailing

I know someone who spent two years, two months and two days staring at the water, living in a space 150ft square, and paying keen attention to the weather. This sounds like a happy circumnavigation, and in a sense, it was, because the person I’m referring to is Henry David ...read more

shutterstock_1886572

Cruising: Won Over by Lake Michigan

Like many, I often spend my sailing holidays far away from home, assuming that real adventure requires some kind of international flight. More and more, though, I’m learning that some of the best sailing vacations can be found right in my own backyard.In this spirit, I skipped my ...read more

00WindGenerator700x

How-to: Installing a Wind Generator

Solar panels or wind generator? There’s little doubt that for Stateside cruising, especially down South where the amount of sunshine outstrips the strength of the wind for much of the year, solar is top of the list for liveaboard and long-term cruisers. Having seen what even a ...read more

01-Ursus-Maritimus-31081

The Figawi Race: A New England Classic

When I was 15, some of my sailing classmates kicked off the summer by sailing the Figawi, New England’s legendary season-opening race held every Memorial Day weekend. A winding course between Hyannis and Nantucket, it was a seemingly epic voyage to a bunch of kids who had never ...read more

03-Panama-Posse-honduras

Panama Posse Enters Its Second Year

The Panama Posse is back this month after a successful inaugural rally in 2017-2018. This year it includes visits to seven Central American countries—Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama.Over the course of the rally, organizers provide ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comLetting go the sheetTaking a loaded-up sheet off a winch when the boat tacks can be a just cause for nervousness. On a boat up to 40ft or so, the safest way is to first ease off a few inches, keeping the ...read more

USCGReadyForRescue_Identifier_FullColor

USCG Ready for Rescue Challenge

The U.S. Coast Guard is now collaborating with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on something it calls the “Ready for Rescue,” a $255,000 prize competition that is looking for ways that will make it easier to locate people, MOB victims in particular, in the water.The ...read more

04-CLR1718md1085-jpg

A Historic Win for Wendy Tuck

This past summer Australian sailor, Wendy Tuck (inset), became the first woman to win a round-the-world yacht race when she and her crew aboard Sanya Serenity Coast claimed the overall victory in the 2017-18 Clipper Race. “I am just so happy,” Tuck said at the finish in ...read more