Luck on the Transpac

Guy Wilding had been out in his kayak every day for months—ever since moving to Honolulu from Australia—and July 20 seemed like any other day until his paddle broke and he was dumped into the drink. This wasn’t good, but Wilding swam to his 18-foot kayak and grabbed on. He then tried to get in—to “rescue,” in kayak-speak—but it didn’t happen. So there he was. Minutes went by. The tide was
Author:
Publish date:
luckboat

Guy Wilding had been out in his kayak every day for months—ever since moving to Honolulu from Australia—and July 20 seemed like any other day until his paddle broke and he was dumped into the drink. This wasn’t good, but Wilding swam to his 18-foot kayak and grabbed on. He then 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, you know he was feeling desperate. Guy knew his wife, Shelley, would 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’s hard to get noticed in a seaway. Would the people on the sailboat be alert? Would they even be looking around 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.”

luckcrew

Transpac sailors are required to practice MOB drills before they start the race, so skipper Philip Sauer and the rest of his crew were ready. They dropped the sails and cranked up the motor, while a crewmember kept an eye on the man in the water—a man who was growing steadily more distant.

When the crew was finally able to turn back under power, it still seemed like forever before they were able to reach their target. But when they did, they immediately deployed a Lifesling and ran a circle around Wilding, which brought a line right to him. “It went by the book,” Howard said of the crew’s efforts to bring aboard.

With any other rescue, Wilding—who moved to Hawaii to coach the U.S. sprint kayak team in preparation for the 2012 Olympics—could have come quietly ashore, thanked his rescuers and enjoyed a tearful reunion with Shelley, who had been trying to convince doubting authorities that her husband must be in danger. But as luck would have it, because Wilding was rescued by a boat racing in the Transpac, his reunion with Shelley and their young daughter, Kali, took place in front of 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.

Related

emSelf-tacking-jib

Ask Sail: Are Self-trackers Worth It?

Q: I’m seeing more and more self-tacking jibs out on the water (and in the pages of SAIL) these days. I can’t help thinking these boats are all hopelessly underpowered, especially off the wind, when compared to boats with even slightly overlapping headsails. But I could be ...read more

01-LEAD-hose-leak-CREDIT-BoatUS

Know how: Is Your Bilge Pump up to the Job?

Without much reflection, I recently replaced my broken bilge pump with a slightly larger model. After all, I thought, surely an 800 gallon-per-hour (gph) pump will outperform the previous 500gph unit? Well, yes, but that’s no reason to feel much safer, as I soon discovered. The ...read more

190314-viddy

St. Maarten Heineken Regatta: A Source of Hope

The tagline for the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is "serious sailing, serious fun." However, for the inhabitants of St. Maarten, the event is more than just a festival of great music and some of the best sailing around. Local blogger Angie Soeffker explains the impact the race ...read more

SPOTX-1500x1500_front

Gear: SPOT-X Satellite

Hits the SPOT The SPOT-X two-way satellite messenger is an economical way of staying connected to the outside world via text or e-mail when you’re at sea. As well as the messaging service, it has a distress function that not only alerts authorities if you’re in trouble, but lets ...read more

_8105684

A Kid’s Take on the Northwest Passage

Going North—and West Crack! Crunch! I woke with a start to the sound of ice scraping the hull of our 60ft sailboat, Dogbark. In a drowsy daze, I hobbled out of the small cabin I was sharing with my little sister. As I emerged into the cockpit, I swiveled my head, searching for ...read more

Nathan-Bates-San-Diego,-CA

SAIL 2018: Reader's Photographs

Are you out there sailing, cruising and living the sailing life? If so, we’d love to see it. Send your sailing photos to sailmail@sailmagazine.com And don’t forget to sign up for our free eNewsletter. Check back for updates! We set sail from Chicago on a crossing to Saugatuck, ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Let her breathe When the wind’s so light your cigar smoke goes straight up (or it used to, before having fun was banned) any well-designed yacht with a clean bottom will somehow keep on sailing if you ...read more