WHK

Tuesday Night Beer Can Race: We Survived – Some Boats Didn’t…..

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You don't expect "Fastnet like" conditions for the Tuesday night beer can race, but we experienced our own storm inshore with some pretty devastating results.  The bottom line is my wallet will be much flatter to replace two sails but all are safe.

J/109 Vento Solare entered the final Jamestown YC (JYC) summer series race with a third place standing.  Weather at the start had winds 8-12 out of the West. It looked like a beautiful night for the race with the potential for some thunderstorms later in the evening.  The crew consisted of Roland on the bow, Eric at mast & tactician, Gardner trimming jib & spin, Mary doing pit & trim, Andrew on main, and Bill on helm.

The West wind required a downwind start since the start line in only 1/4 mile from the shore and we can’t sail upwind into the land on Jamestown. The course had us sailing across the bay to the Newport harbor entrance buoy G1, back to the R12 buoy off Rose Island, over to the R2 buoy just inside Fort Adams, then to the Jamestown harbor finish line. Vento Solare with its PHRF rating of 75 is the “slowest” boat in the spinnaker A class. All went well, and we were in front of two boats that owed us time after rounding the final mark by Fort Adams on the final leg headed to Jamestown.  Over Jamestown we could see many lightning strikes from dark clouds.  About half way across the bay, sheets of rain were falling and quickly overtook us.  Within 20 seconds of the rain hitting us, the winds rapidly increased.  We immediately attempted to drop the sails but were overtaken by the strong winds and knocked over with the port side spreaders in the water.  Mary was at the port winch and slid under the port lifeline, holding on to anything she could to stay with the boat.   Bill was on the starboard side holding on to the helm to prevent from falling off the boat.  Others held on to anything they could to stay on the boat.  While the boat was on its side, it was very difficult to take actions to get the sails down.  

Mary was able to pull herself back on the boat through the lifelines. While she was doing that, the man overboard “Jon Buoy” deployed. Within a minute, we were able to drop the mainsail, but not before it shredded along the leech.  The jib was furled and the engine started.  Around us we saw three other boats with shredded sails. Over the radio we heard calls for help from boats that lost people overboard.  We relayed radio calls to the Jamestown YC race committee who was trying to account for all competitors. A J/22 had 3 of 4 crew members overboard. Fortunately they were all recovered safely.  The Alerion 28 Havsflickan was unaccounted for. Later it was reported as sunk, with the crew safely rescued.  A classic Herreshoff S boat met the same fate, with crew safely recovered. We heard reports from Newport harbor of many boats that swamped on their moorings and sunk.

We attempted to hail J/92s Spirit on the radio but heard no reply. Others responded that they had seen Spirit heading back to the marina.  When we returned, there was no sign of Spirit so we hailed others on the VHF to be on the lookout for them.  Well after we returned to the dock, Spirit appeared at the marina.  It turns out the helmsman had fallen on the VHF remote and broken the connector, making their radio inoperative.  Once they were at the dock, we reported that they were back safe and all accounted for.

We were on our side and saw more than 90 degrees heel as evidenced by some items stored outboard the stbd side Nav station cubby that ended on the shelf above the port settee along with the computer mouse that was in a foam holder velcroed to the Nav table.  The keyboard is kept inside the Nav table when underway. Other than that, everything below decks remained where it was supposed to be. All electronics including the Surface Pro 4 computer on a RAM mount running Expedition continued to function.  Later today I will go back and pull the data to see if I can get the actual wind velocity and heel angle.  We had plenty of rain water spray in the companionway hatch but no sea water entered the boat, even though we had lines streaming through the aft facing port lights.  This could have been a real disaster for us if there wasn’t enough buoyancy to keep those above the water. I’ve always felt confident that the J/Boats I’ve owned can survive challenging conditions – both my previous boat J/30 Rhapsody and now J/109 Vento Solare.

In the end, all in the JYC summer series race were accounted for.  The race was officially abandoned and final results remained with Vento Solare in third place for the Spinnaker A class.  Our instruments showed winds in excess of 50 kts during the storm. The resulting damage is a destroyed mainsail, destroyed jib and man overboard buoy requiring servicing, but everyone is safe.

3Di Main shredded

3di-shredded.jpg

 

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That sucks. Glad everyone is safe

The storms yesterday late afternoon that ripped through the Hudson Valley here in New York right over my yacht club were amazingly crazy. I was doing some work on a 36 foot hunter when I could see the storm marching across the Hudson River.  Within 30 seconds I could not  see the other side of the river and one minute after that the boat was on its side and I was looking in the hull porthole down into the water because the rail was buried due to the 68 mph winds that were sustained for almost 15 minutes. We lost two more boats At our club yesterday to add to the two that we lost when tropical storm Isaias came by a few weeks ago. 
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I think that keel is a little bent. 

I had to hide in a bathroom while Isaias rolled a tornado though the marina a few weeks back and the boats were all on a hard tack in their slips. Trees and telephone poles were not happy. 
 


 

 

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Bill, I'm glad you're all safe. I'm sorry to see the damage.

I seem to recall an Alerion going down during the Whitebread a few years back. It took a knockdown and a wave and that was all to make it sink. I think the boats are pretty but there's clearly a design flaw. It doesn't sound like you had much time to react to the conditions, either.

Good writeup, always important to keep that weather eye.

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When I raced on the lakes of central Europe, we raced very hard unless a thunderstorm was approaching: Then it was (1) life jackets, (2) all sails DOWN (3) all sails BELOW deck.

We certainly pulled the sails down when we saw lightning a mile away, no question about it. Those always made for memorable days on the water, with many rescues of boats and crews who did not react as quickly as we did.

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Thanks for the story WHK. Glad all made it out safely.

You may want to check your mast where it is hidden within the partners. We put a big crack in the forward edge of a 109 spar in a similar situation - we think. The crack wasn't noticed until the rig was pulled at the end of the season but pretty sure that's what did it.

One difference between your situation and ours is that we still had the big kite up when the storm suddenly hit, so perhaps even more flogging and rig pumping. Rig was was written off and replaced. Fingers crossed yours came out okay.

 

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8 hours ago, WHK said:

You don't expect "Fastnet like" conditions for the Tuesday night beer can race, but we experienced our own storm inshore with some pretty devastating results.  The bottom line is my wallet will be much flatter to replace two sails but all are safe.

J/109 Vento Solare entered the final Jamestown YC (JYC) summer series race with a third place standing.  Weather at the start had winds 8-12 out of the West. It looked like a beautiful night for the race with the potential for some thunderstorms later in the evening.  The crew consisted of Roland on the bow, Eric at mast & tactician, Gardner trimming jib & spin, Mary doing pit & trim, Andrew on main, and Bill on helm.

The West wind required a downwind start since the start line in only 1/4 mile from the shore and we can’t sail upwind into the land on Jamestown. The course had us sailing across the bay to the Newport harbor entrance buoy G1, back to the R12 buoy off Rose Island, over to the R2 buoy just inside Fort Adams, then to the Jamestown harbor finish line. Vento Solare with its PHRF rating of 75 is the “slowest” boat in the spinnaker A class. All went well, and we were in front of two boats that owed us time after rounding the final mark by Fort Adams on the final leg headed to Jamestown.  Over Jamestown we could see many lightning strikes from dark clouds.  About half way across the bay, sheets of rain were falling and quickly overtook us.  Within 20 seconds of the rain hitting us, the winds rapidly increased.  We immediately attempted to drop the sails but were overtaken by the strong winds and knocked over with the port side spreaders in the water.  Mary was at the port winch and slid under the port lifeline, holding on to anything she could to stay with the boat.   Bill was on the starboard side holding on to the helm to prevent from falling off the boat.  Others held on to anything they could to stay on the boat.  While the boat was on its side, it was very difficult to take actions to get the sails down.  

Mary was able to pull herself back on the boat through the lifelines. While she was doing that, the man overboard “Jon Buoy” deployed. Within a minute, we were able to drop the mainsail, but not before it shredded along the leech.  The jib was furled and the engine started.  Around us we saw three other boats with shredded sails. Over the radio we heard calls for help from boats that lost people overboard.  We relayed radio calls to the Jamestown YC race committee who was trying to account for all competitors. A J/22 had 3 of 4 crew members overboard. Fortunately they were all recovered safely.  The Alerion 28 Havsflickan was unaccounted for. Later it was reported as sunk, with the crew safely rescued.  A classic Herreshoff S boat met the same fate, with crew safely recovered. We heard reports from Newport harbor of many boats that swamped on their moorings and sunk.

We attempted to hail J/92s Spirit on the radio but heard no reply. Others responded that they had seen Spirit heading back to the marina.  When we returned, there was no sign of Spirit so we hailed others on the VHF to be on the lookout for them.  Well after we returned to the dock, Spirit appeared at the marina.  It turns out the helmsman had fallen on the VHF remote and broken the connector, making their radio inoperative.  Once they were at the dock, we reported that they were back safe and all accounted for.

We were on our side and saw more than 90 degrees heel as evidenced by some items stored outboard the stbd side Nav station cubby that ended on the shelf above the port settee along with the computer mouse that was in a foam holder velcroed to the Nav table.  The keyboard is kept inside the Nav table when underway. Other than that, everything below decks remained where it was supposed to be. All electronics including the Surface Pro 4 computer on a RAM mount running Expedition continued to function.  Later today I will go back and pull the data to see if I can get the actual wind velocity and heel angle.  We had plenty of rain water spray in the companionway hatch but no sea water entered the boat, even though we had lines streaming through the aft facing port lights.  This could have been a real disaster for us if there wasn’t enough buoyancy to keep those above the water. I’ve always felt confident that the J/Boats I’ve owned can survive challenging conditions – both my previous boat J/30 Rhapsody and now J/109 Vento Solare.

In the end, all in the JYC summer series race were accounted for.  The race was officially abandoned and final results remained with Vento Solare in third place for the Spinnaker A class.  Our instruments showed winds in excess of 50 kts during the storm. The resulting damage is a destroyed mainsail, destroyed jib and man overboard buoy requiring servicing, but everyone is safe.

3Di Main shredded

3di-shredded.jpg

 

Ask for a refund from the sailmaker

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, ryley said:

 It doesn't sound like you had much time to react to the conditions, either.

 

Uhhh... No. 

'Fort Adams on the final leg headed to Jamestown.  Over Jamestown we could see many lightning strikes from dark clouds'.
(On a direct heading for our 3di Mainsail!)  

 

 

Edited by Cristoforo

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7 minutes ago, jesposito said:

Ask for a refund from the sailmaker

After you sue the race committee, yacht club, US Sailing for sending you out in dangerous conditions! 

I would sue Jeff Bezos and Zuckerberg also.   

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It must have been Trump's fault as well

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8 minutes ago, Cristoforo said:

Uhhh... No. 

Fort Adams on the final leg headed to Jamestown.  Over Jamestown we could see many lightning strikes from dark clouds.

 

 

it's 1.5 miles from Ft. Adams to Jamestown. They would have been heading back WNW into a Westerly. It's hilly terrain on the Jamestown side and it could have looked like it was going north of them. I shouldn't second-guess how much time they had. neither should you.

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29 minutes ago, ryley said:

it's 1.5 miles from Ft. Adams to Jamestown. They would have been heading back WNW into a Westerly. It's hilly terrain on the Jamestown side and it could have looked like it was going north of them. I shouldn't second-guess how much time they had. neither should you.

Yep. Highest point on Conanicut Islnd is 135 feet above sea level. Cloud heads reach 50,000 feet.    TStorms leading a predicted NW cold front passing thru on a 90 degree day. What are the odds!!!

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1 hour ago, jesposito said:

It must have been Trump's fault as well

Only if they were quantum sails

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The on the water damage was avoidable. For a Tuesday night race...? I completely understand confronting such conditions during an offshore race or overnighter. 

Everyone has a cell phone with radar. 

While I responsibly raced with a great young crew, if the conditions were closing in, motor on, sails down and B-Line to safe harbor.  We won everything anyway including the bar, when the rest of the damaged fleet would arrive back to safe harbor, of course after race abandonment.  It's called Seamanship! 

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17 hours ago, WHK said:

potential for some thunderstorms later in the evening

I am completely unable to fathom the fact that people see a forecast so horrid and go "oh I think I will be alright" and then go out to, well obviously not be alright.

The forecast isn't accurate, it's an approximate, it's a guide. If it says Thunderstorms late, it means "Probably" thunderstorms "arriving approximately" late.

If the storm weakens, it comes in slower, if it strengthens it comes in faster, meaning earlier.

Also, if it starts getting wild, THAT's when you get your sails down, not after it is wild. Everyone seems to forget that your main wont slide down the track with 40 knots blowing against the side of it.

Reminds me of the Bol d' or, or whatever it was last year which got smashed by a storm, and you could see boats 5 minutes behind you getting flattened, and everyone just kept full sail up until they got wrecked. Mind-blowing.

We had an UNFORECASTED storm hit us on the river in Perth, and the moment we thought "hey that looks a bit fucked" we pulled down the sails and prepared to return to dock.

Of the like 100 boats out that day like 20 lost rigs and at least 50 needed major work on their sails, hell, I remember the sail-makers being literally booked out for like 18 months from it, and the riggers booked out for 6-12 months. Yet everyone at the club was all "oh my god I cannot believe that happened" while we were like, WTF YOU SAW IT, AT LEAST 5 MINUTES BEFORE IT HIT YOU, YOU LITERALLY JUST SAILED INTO IT, we had all the time in the world to take sails down, prep motor, batten down the hatches etc.

10 hours ago, jesposito said:

Ask for a refund from the sailmaker

Or just don't go out when a thunderstorm is forecast.

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23 minutes ago, darth reapius said:

I am completely unable to fathom the fact that people see a forecast so horrid and go "oh I think I will be alright" and then go out to, well obviously not be alright.

The forecast isn't accurate, it's an approximate, it's a guide. If it says Thunderstorms late, it means "Probably" thunderstorms "arriving approximately" late.

If the storm weakens, it comes in slower, if it strengthens it comes in faster, meaning earlier.

Also, if it starts getting wild, THAT's when you get your sails down, not after it is wild. Everyone seems to forget that your main wont slide down the track with 40 knots blowing against the side of it.

Reminds me of the Bol d' or, or whatever it was last year which got smashed by a storm, and you could see boats 5 minutes behind you getting flattened, and everyone just kept full sail up until they got wrecked. Mind-blowing.

We had an UNFORECASTED storm hit us on the river in Perth, and the moment we thought "hey that looks a bit fucked" we pulled down the sails and prepared to return to dock.

Of the like 100 boats out that day like 20 lost rigs and at least 50 needed major work on their sails, hell, I remember the sail-makers being literally booked out for like 18 months from it, and the riggers booked out for 6-12 months. Yet everyone at the club was all "oh my god I cannot believe that happened" while we were like, WTF YOU SAW IT, AT LEAST 5 MINUTES BEFORE IT HIT YOU, YOU LITERALLY JUST SAILED INTO IT, we had all the time in the world to take sails down, prep motor, batten down the hatches etc.

Or just don't go out when a thunderstorm is forecast.

Indeed. Have seen boats sail into a shitstorm, kites still up - outcome is never good for the boats.

But sometimes you don't have 5 mins - 

 

 

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To the OP:

Thanks for taking the time to put together a well-written, reasoned and interesting account from which we can all take lessons. 

I’m not local to you so, purely from academic interest, is that kind of sudden event usual there?

It seems that it came on you quite suddenly. How long did it last and how quickly did it abate when it was over?

To those of you piling on:

Behave; if you can’t, then fuck off back to PA.

 

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5 hours ago, darth reapius said:

I am completely unable to fathom the fact that people see a forecast so horrid and go "oh I think I will be alright" and then go out to, well obviously not be alright.

The forecast isn't accurate, it's an approximate, it's a guide. If it says Thunderstorms late, it means "Probably" thunderstorms "arriving approximately" late.

If the storm weakens, it comes in slower, if it strengthens it comes in faster, meaning earlier.

Also, if it starts getting wild, THAT's when you get your sails down, not after it is wild. Everyone seems to forget that your main wont slide down the track with 40 knots blowing against the side of it.

Reminds me of the Bol d' or, or whatever it was last year which got smashed by a storm, and you could see boats 5 minutes behind you getting flattened, and everyone just kept full sail up until they got wrecked. Mind-blowing.

We had an UNFORECASTED storm hit us on the river in Perth, and the moment we thought "hey that looks a bit fucked" we pulled down the sails and prepared to return to dock.

Of the like 100 boats out that day like 20 lost rigs and at least 50 needed major work on their sails, hell, I remember the sail-makers being literally booked out for like 18 months from it, and the riggers booked out for 6-12 months. Yet everyone at the club was all "oh my god I cannot believe that happened" while we were like, WTF YOU SAW IT, AT LEAST 5 MINUTES BEFORE IT HIT YOU, YOU LITERALLY JUST SAILED INTO IT, we had all the time in the world to take sails down, prep motor, batten down the hatches etc.

Or just don't go out when a thunderstorm is forecast.

You're wrong in this case because the forecast was smack on. You could have had a TV with rabbit ears and would have had an accurate prediction of the local weather at least a day before from the local Quohog morning news, even if you couldn't see the storm developing  behind Mount Conanicut           

Weather Alert: Isolated Strong T’Storms Return Tuesday Afternoon.

Posted: Aug 24, 2020 / 05:08 AM EDT 

Scattered thunderstorms will re-develop Tuesday afternoon, and once again, some have the potential to be strong to severe.

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Partly sunny, hot and humid…. highs near 90. A chance of “scattered” strong to severe showers and thunderstorms mid to late afternoon/evening. Some storms may contain large hail and damaging wind gusts.

https://www.wpri.com/weather/weather-now/weather-now-hot-and-humid-with-isolated-thunderstorms-possible/

Perhaps Vento Solare needs to upgrade to  a weather rock in the cockpit 

f486ffba4cdc07cc040428fc310e18a1.jpg

 

 

 

 

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You never know what these storms are going to bring.  Some storms can roll through with lighting, thunder, and pounding rain, and little wind.  And sometimes it blows the dogs off the chains but only sprinkles for a few minutes.  It's up to the skippers and boat owners to make the choices.  If the crew isn't comfortable going out, it's up to them to make that choice.  If you're going to go out to compete, all you can do it try to be informed, prepared, and ready.

Throwing stones is stupid and pointless.

 

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On 8/26/2020 at 7:40 AM, WHK said:

You don't expect "Fastnet like" conditions for the Tuesday night beer can race, but we experienced our own storm inshore with some pretty devastating results.  The bottom line is my wallet will be much flatter to replace two sails but all are safe.

J/109 Vento Solare entered the final Jamestown YC (JYC) summer series race with a third place standing.  Weather at the start had winds 8-12 out of the West. It looked like a beautiful night for the race with the potential for some thunderstorms later in the evening.  The crew consisted of Roland on the bow, Eric at mast & tactician, Gardner trimming jib & spin, Mary doing pit & trim, Andrew on main, and Bill on helm.

The West wind required a downwind start since the start line in only 1/4 mile from the shore and we can’t sail upwind into the land on Jamestown. The course had us sailing across the bay to the Newport harbor entrance buoy G1, back to the R12 buoy off Rose Island, over to the R2 buoy just inside Fort Adams, then to the Jamestown harbor finish line. Vento Solare with its PHRF rating of 75 is the “slowest” boat in the spinnaker A class. All went well, and we were in front of two boats that owed us time after rounding the final mark by Fort Adams on the final leg headed to Jamestown.  Over Jamestown we could see many lightning strikes from dark clouds.  About half way across the bay, sheets of rain were falling and quickly overtook us.  Within 20 seconds of the rain hitting us, the winds rapidly increased.  We immediately attempted to drop the sails but were overtaken by the strong winds and knocked over with the port side spreaders in the water.  Mary was at the port winch and slid under the port lifeline, holding on to anything she could to stay with the boat.   Bill was on the starboard side holding on to the helm to prevent from falling off the boat.  Others held on to anything they could to stay on the boat.  While the boat was on its side, it was very difficult to take actions to get the sails down.  

Mary was able to pull herself back on the boat through the lifelines. While she was doing that, the man overboard “Jon Buoy” deployed. Within a minute, we were able to drop the mainsail, but not before it shredded along the leech.  The jib was furled and the engine started.  Around us we saw three other boats with shredded sails. Over the radio we heard calls for help from boats that lost people overboard.  We relayed radio calls to the Jamestown YC race committee who was trying to account for all competitors. A J/22 had 3 of 4 crew members overboard. Fortunately they were all recovered safely.  The Alerion 28 Havsflickan was unaccounted for. Later it was reported as sunk, with the crew safely rescued.  A classic Herreshoff S boat met the same fate, with crew safely recovered. We heard reports from Newport harbor of many boats that swamped on their moorings and sunk.

We attempted to hail J/92s Spirit on the radio but heard no reply. Others responded that they had seen Spirit heading back to the marina.  When we returned, there was no sign of Spirit so we hailed others on the VHF to be on the lookout for them.  Well after we returned to the dock, Spirit appeared at the marina.  It turns out the helmsman had fallen on the VHF remote and broken the connector, making their radio inoperative.  Once they were at the dock, we reported that they were back safe and all accounted for.

We were on our side and saw more than 90 degrees heel as evidenced by some items stored outboard the stbd side Nav station cubby that ended on the shelf above the port settee along with the computer mouse that was in a foam holder velcroed to the Nav table.  The keyboard is kept inside the Nav table when underway. Other than that, everything below decks remained where it was supposed to be. All electronics including the Surface Pro 4 computer on a RAM mount running Expedition continued to function.  Later today I will go back and pull the data to see if I can get the actual wind velocity and heel angle.  We had plenty of rain water spray in the companionway hatch but no sea water entered the boat, even though we had lines streaming through the aft facing port lights.  This could have been a real disaster for us if there wasn’t enough buoyancy to keep those above the water. I’ve always felt confident that the J/Boats I’ve owned can survive challenging conditions – both my previous boat J/30 Rhapsody and now J/109 Vento Solare.

In the end, all in the JYC summer series race were accounted for.  The race was officially abandoned and final results remained with Vento Solare in third place for the Spinnaker A class.  Our instruments showed winds in excess of 50 kts during the storm. The resulting damage is a destroyed mainsail, destroyed jib and man overboard buoy requiring servicing, but everyone is safe.

3Di Main shredded

3di-shredded.jpg

 

New crew bags for the crew!

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6 hours ago, darth reapius said:

I am completely unable to fathom the fact that people see a forecast so horrid and go "oh I think I will be alright" and then go out to, well obviously not be alright.

The forecast isn't accurate, it's an approximate, it's a guide. If it says Thunderstorms late, it means "Probably" thunderstorms "arriving approximately" late.

If the storm weakens, it comes in slower, if it strengthens it comes in faster, meaning earlier.

Also, if it starts getting wild, THAT's when you get your sails down, not after it is wild. Everyone seems to forget that your main wont slide down the track with 40 knots blowing against the side of it.

Reminds me of the Bol d' or, or whatever it was last year which got smashed by a storm, and you could see boats 5 minutes behind you getting flattened, and everyone just kept full sail up until they got wrecked. Mind-blowing.

We had an UNFORECASTED storm hit us on the river in Perth, and the moment we thought "hey that looks a bit fucked" we pulled down the sails and prepared to return to dock.

Of the like 100 boats out that day like 20 lost rigs and at least 50 needed major work on their sails, hell, I remember the sail-makers being literally booked out for like 18 months from it, and the riggers booked out for 6-12 months. Yet everyone at the club was all "oh my god I cannot believe that happened" while we were like, WTF YOU SAW IT, AT LEAST 5 MINUTES BEFORE IT HIT YOU, YOU LITERALLY JUST SAILED INTO IT, we had all the time in the world to take sails down, prep motor, batten down the hatches etc.

Or just don't go out when a thunderstorm is forecast.

On Lake Ontario, thunderstorms are forecast on about half the nights in July and August. If you never went out when they were forecast a short enough season would be even shorter. What you can do is keep an eye out for developments and act early. Many years ago we were on a downwind leg to the finish and only 200 m or so to go. We could see nasty stuff coming from behind but I was pretty sure we could finish and immediately drop the sails. Had the crew primed for that when we go hit by around 50 knots and knocked down. When we got hit the black stuff still looked a mile or so away. Lesson learned. Finishing a beer can race isn't that important.

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good update here: 

kudos to Peter Cronin (former Mudrat) for rendering assistance 

 

 

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I've been preoccupied doing some ceiling painting at home so haven't been following post responses in real time. The painting supplies are cleaned up and put away so now time to post.

For those not familiar with the Newport RI area and thunder storm patterns, the weather forecast in late summer typically has a chance of thunderstorms, and it's a crap shoot if these even appear or make it to our area before dissipating. These storms will originate as a line generally SW-NE and move west to east.  The storms frequently dissipate in the south and keep active to the north.  We can be getting storm warnings for the area and see lightning up the bay just with just skies in Newport and activity to the North.  Barrington YC shares the same VHF channel and races on Tuesday evenings in the Northern Narragansett bay.  We will hear their RC announcements and see activity North with no impact in the south bay.

The thunderstorm patterns this year have been different - probably due to the jet stream being so far south.  

The storm Saturday: This past Saturday we raced the Leukemia Cup which finished in the North part of the bay. The forecast also had thunderstorms predicted and sure enough after we finished mid afternoon and were headed south to Newport, the NOAA weather alerts warned of a storm heading from the north in our direction.  You could see lightening and dark clouds to the north.  As it moved closer, we dropped sails and most went below to stay dry.  I stayed at the helm as we continued to motor south.  We got rain and saw winds slowly increase to about 30 kts.  There was lightening we could see on the shore about a mile away.   A boat by the Mt. Hope bridge (northeast tip of Aquidneck Island) announced on the radio they had been struck by lightening and was requesting assistance.  The storm passed in about 10 minutes. 

Dark & Stormies on the way back with storm in background

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What was different from normal? The storm moved North to South, and moved at a rate typical for this area.

The storm Tuesday:  The entire event happened in three minutes from 12kts wind to > 50kts, and back down to no wind.. Once the rain hit, the wind went from 12kts to > 50kts in less than 20 seconds (from my Expedition file).  The Spinnaker A fleet seemed to be most exposed in the section of the bay between Newport & Jamestown. Every boat I saw in our spin A fleet after the storm passed through had shredded sails.  The Spin B fleet appeared to be closer to Newport and most I spoke with were able to get their sails down.  I'm not sure what the location was of the boats that swamped.
What was different from normal? The storm moved the typical West to East and was a very tight cell.  Newport got whacked.  Where I live in Portsmouth (~10nm north of where we were)  got no rain and saw 20 kt winds.  The storm moved through the area at a quick rate (~45kts), which is much faster than the typical storms in this area.

Bottom Line: If we were to cancel racing everytime thunderstorms were forecasted, there would not be a race season.  We just need to be watchful and take precautions.  Yes We all should have gotten our sails down earlier as I have done with on many other occasions.

 

16 hours ago, jesposito said:

It must have been Trump's fault as well

This is funny! On Sunday we were doing a navigator race all around Narragansett Bay.  In the morning we saw a bunch of power boats headed to Newport flying Trump flags.  I just attributed it to the "Cranston Navy" going to Newport for the day. One of my crew said it was posted on Facebook - which I only check twice a year....
Later on we heard USCG announcements to warn everyone about the Trump boat parade leaving Newport and touring Narragansett bay.  What I didn't count on was their passing through our path during the race.  We were crossing the bay east to west and had 350 power boats bearing down on us from the south.  We heard the radio chatter about the f*ckn blow boat in the way. Someone in their fleet was kind enough to respond with "you know he does have the right of way"!

Trump Parade heading towards us

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In the middle of it - check out the disturbed water

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16 minutes ago, WHK said:

I've been preoccupied doing some ceiling painting at home so haven't been following post responses in real time. The painting supplies are cleaned up and put away so now time to post.

For those not familiar with the Newport RI area and thunder storm patterns, the weather forecast in late summer typically has a chance of thunderstorms, and it's a crap shoot if these even appear or make it to our area before dissipating. These storms will originate as a line generally SW-NE and move west to east.  The storms frequently dissipate in the south and keep active to the north.  We can be getting storm warnings for the area and see lightning up the bay just with just skies in Newport and activity to the North.  Barrington YC shares the same VHF channel and races on Tuesday evenings in the Northern Narragansett bay.  We will hear their RC announcements and see activity North with no impact in the south bay.

The thunderstorm patterns this year have been different - probably due to the jet stream being so far south.  

The storm Saturday: This past Saturday we raced the Leukemia Cup which finished in the North part of the bay. The forecast also had thunderstorms predicted and sure enough after we finished mid afternoon and were headed south to Newport, the NOAA weather alerts warned of a storm heading from the north in our direction.  You could see lightening and dark clouds to the north.  As it moved closer, we dropped sails and most went below to stay dry.  I stayed at the helm as we continued to motor south.  We got rain and saw winds slowly increase to about 30 kts.  There was lightening we could see on the shore about a mile away.   A boat by the Mt. Hope bridge (northeast tip of Aquidneck Island) announced on the radio they had been struck by lightening and was requesting assistance.  The storm passed in about 10 minutes. 

Dark & Stormies on the way back with storm in background


What was different from normal? The storm moved North to South, and moved at a rate typical for this area.

The storm Tuesday:  The entire event happened in three minutes from 12kts wind to > 50kts, and back down to no wind.. Once the rain hit, the wind went from 12kts to > 50kts in less than 20 seconds (from my Expedition file).  The Spinnaker A fleet seemed to be most exposed in the section of the bay between Newport & Jamestown. Every boat I saw in our spin A fleet after the storm passed through had shredded sails.  The Spin B fleet appeared to be closer to Newport and most I spoke with were able to get their sails down.  I'm not sure what the location was of the boats that swamped.
What was different from normal? The storm moved the typical West to East and was a very tight cell.  Newport got whacked.  Where I live in Portsmouth (~10nm north of where we were)  got no rain and saw 20 kt winds.  The storm moved through the area at a quick rate (~45kts), which is much faster than the typical storms in this area.

Bottom Line: If we were to cancel racing everytime thunderstorms were forecasted, there would not be a race season.  We just need to be watchful and take precautions.  Yes We all should have gotten our sails down earlier as I have done with on many other occasions.

 

This is funny! On Sunday we were doing a navigator race all around Narragansett Bay.  In the morning we saw a bunch of power boats headed to Newport flying Trump flags.  I just attributed it to the "Cranston Navy" going to Newport for the day. One of my crew said it was posted on Facebook - which I only check twice a year....
Later on we heard USCG announcements to warn everyone about the Trump boat parade leaving Newport and touring Narragansett bay.  What I didn't count on was their passing through our path during the race.  We were crossing the bay east to west and had 350 power boats bearing down on us from the south.  We heard the radio chatter about the f*ckn blow boat in the way. Someone in their fleet was kind enough to respond with "you know he does have the right of way"!

Trump Parade heading towards us

 

In the middle of it - check out the disturbed water

Well said Bill. But your bottom line is wrong. Even you can  admit the forecast for Tuesday night was not  the typical or frequent heat generated isolated  summer time  'chance of thunderstorms' you are describing.  It was a well predicted fast moving cold front with lots of energy. They don't sweep down that often. 'Large hail' is not frequently  predicted. Kudos to the weatherman for nailing it.  Racing should not have been canceled but the lesson is more likely to recognize that basic forecast difference and reef or withdraw early especially when sailing in the direction of observed lightning.  Or everyone just maintain the status quo with gear damage, multiple sunk boats and multiple MOBs. I would say you were all  pretty lucky.  

  

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13 hours ago, darth reapius said:

I am completely unable to fathom the fact that people see a forecast so horrid and go "oh I think I will be alright" and then go out to, well obviously not be alright.

The forecast isn't accurate, it's an approximate, it's a guide. If it says Thunderstorms late, it means "Probably" thunderstorms "arriving approximately" late.

If the storm weakens, it comes in slower, if it strengthens it comes in faster, meaning earlier.

Also, if it starts getting wild, THAT's when you get your sails down, not after it is wild. Everyone seems to forget that your main wont slide down the track with 40 knots blowing against the side of it.

Reminds me of the Bol d' or, or whatever it was last year which got smashed by a storm, and you could see boats 5 minutes behind you getting flattened, and everyone just kept full sail up until they got wrecked. Mind-blowing.

We had an UNFORECASTED storm hit us on the river in Perth, and the moment we thought "hey that looks a bit fucked" we pulled down the sails and prepared to return to dock.

Of the like 100 boats out that day like 20 lost rigs and at least 50 needed major work on their sails, hell, I remember the sail-makers being literally booked out for like 18 months from it, and the riggers booked out for 6-12 months. Yet everyone at the club was all "oh my god I cannot believe that happened" while we were like, WTF YOU SAW IT, AT LEAST 5 MINUTES BEFORE IT HIT YOU, YOU LITERALLY JUST SAILED INTO IT, we had all the time in the world to take sails down, prep motor, batten down the hatches etc.

Or just don't go out when a thunderstorm is forecast.

You'd never leave the dock here in the Newport/ Buzzards Bay area from June until October. "Chance" of thunder storms are fore cast here more days than not. 

Usually around here you can see them coming and prepare. 

Thats what always concerned me sailing on the great lakes. Thunderstorms/squalls/microbursts seem to form much quicker and without warning than on the ocean. 

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So.... while the Ensign, Alerion and S-Class were being sunk, on land at Sail Newport 3 catamarans went for a miraculus sail.  2 F18's and a new foiling A Class - all 3 were tied down with airplane tie-down stakes.  No one saw them go flying, but they wound up in a pig pile.  One of the F18's and A were mine.  When the first photo came to me, I was sure my sailing season was over and I was looking at many thousands of repairs.

What we found when we got to the boat park was nothing short of a miracle.  The A had flown at least 24 feet horizontally and at least 15 feet vertically to land on top of the pile of boats.  She is paper thin carbon - any drop results in puncture.  But....... the she was 10 feet in the air capsized and teetering like some Calder sculpture - hanging on her diamond stays which were resting on the rigging of both F18's.

Zero scratches on the boat!

After the first wave of amazement, we set about figuring how to extract the boat without doing damage.   A crane would have been helpful.  In place of a crane we used a truck and several structures to brace the lower hull, created stays tied the upper hull to take the strain off the mast.  With the hull braced we were able to remove the mast which had a free small dings (one day of carbon work) and totally fried stainless mast plate.   One the mast was gone, we got a team of 8 to slip the A offf the pile without damage - video attached.

Adding to the miracle - the 2 Nacra 18's came upright ready to sail - some scratches but no hull or mast damage.

The boats must have been levitated and then settled.  Never seen anything like it.

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A few years ago we had a cell come through for our Wednesday night series. Our RC is pretty on the ball and called all competitors and warned us. We had already seen it coming on our phones and had our sails down and motor on. It wasn't too terrible with high 20's sustained with gusts in the 40's. An Etchells lost its mast, and a few R19's needed to be rescued. 

Just 2 miles away, the New Bedford hurricane barrier recorded peak winds of 90+ MPH!  We got lucky seeing as little wind as we did.  

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Bill,  Salacia (J120) was a few boatlengths ahead of you with you on our starboard hip. You were maybe 400 to 500 yards away from us - maybe a little more.  When the rain and spray went horizontal we could not see you for a moment,  then saw your spreaders just above the surface, but moving upright.  What a scary thing to watch.

From our Expedition log:

event started:  19:04:05  (wind jumped from 18 to mid 20's)

max heel:  19:04:36

max AWS:  19:04:39
max TWS:   19:04:44
Wind < 30:  19:05:16
 
max aws 80.6
max tws 75.3
"max" heel -49.3
 
Kind of made me want to go back to submarines!
 

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14 minutes ago, TedH said:

Bill,  Salacia (J120) was a few boatlengths ahead of you with you on our starboard hip. You were maybe 400 to 500 yards away from us - maybe a little more.  When the rain and spray went horizontal we could not see you for a moment,  then saw your spreaders just above the surface, but moving upright.  What a scary thing to watch.

...

Kind of made me want to go back to submarines!
 

Ted,

We saw Salacia immediately when the wall of water cleared.  Surveying the horizon all the Spin A fleet boats we saw had shredded sails.  I thought I'd be the first one at the North loft Weds morning but Entropy had beaten me there.  Eric Wakefield indicated his phone started ringing about 10pm with emails from a number of folks wanting to get sails repaired.

We had two dolphin wearers, one SWO and one Seal on the crew.

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We were approaching the leeward mark with the kite up in a lot of traffic. Luckily I had looked over my shoulder and saw the wall of water and immediately yelled douse and turned away from the mark. We got the kite down and jib furled and we’re working on the main when the wind hit.  We immediately got pasted on our side.  Soon after the engine died due to a spin sheet that fell in. I really thought we would end up hitting goat Island but fortunately made it into the harbor.  

once it calmed down we saw mayhem throughout the harbor.  Several flooded boats. Lots of gear an a few people in the water.  

A lot of ribs were out helping 

 

I picked up a small spin pole that was floating   If anyone knows who lost it let me know


And then the sun came out so we had a nice sail back to the mooring 

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Cheryl Rienzo the JYC Race Chair sent me the following photo to post.

Photo courtesy of Bill Doyle from his Newport dock at 7:04pm. Not a typical t-storm formation for the South Bay.

before-the-storm-scaled.jpg

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Nice photo despite the outcome. I see green. When there is green in the cloud it gets nasty quick. A useful tell.

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12 hours ago, WHK said:
12 hours ago, TedH said:

Bill,  Salacia (J120) was a few boatlengths ahead of you with you on our starboard hip. You were maybe 400 to 500 yards away from us - maybe a little more.  When the rain and spray went horizontal we could not see you for a moment,  then saw your spreaders just above the surface, but moving upright.  What a scary thing to watch.

...

Kind of made me want to go back to submarines!
 

Ted,

We saw Salacia immediately when the wall of water cleared.  Surveying the horizon all the Spin A fleet boats we saw had shredded sails.  I thought I'd be the first one at the North loft Weds morning but Entropy had beaten me there.  Eric Wakefield indicated his phone started ringing about 10pm with emails from a number of folks wanting to get sails repaired.

We had two dolphin wearers, one SWO and one Seal on the crew.

So guys, sounds like a most excellent adventure.

What, too soon?

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So, from my read of the OP,  there was absolutely no warning at all that things were going to go pear shaped - please clarify for me.

I'm with those that have noted a great reluctance on the part of enthusiastic racers to diverge from the game plan despite the onset of inclement weather.

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Yes there was warning, as we frequently get, but don't materialize.  This was real and caught the entire Newport fleet. Knowing what I know now, and learning from the LakeErieWX analysis, I have a better tool set to make informed decisions.

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EC & I were at a crew member's wedding at Fort Adams overlooking the race.  We watched and wished we could be at two places the same time!

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Rereading your post:

"All went well, and we were in front of two boats that owed us time after rounding the final mark by Fort Adams on the final leg headed to JamestownOver Jamestown we could see many lightning strikes from dark cloudsAbout half way across the bay, sheets of rain were falling and quickly overtook us.  Within 20 seconds of the rain hitting us, the winds rapidly increased."

My take on your description is that you rounded the final mark and turned to head for Jamestown. At that point you could see lightning and dark clouds over Jamestown. However, you were "about half way across the bay" before you were hit by the cell.

So, by your own words, you had the amount of time to sail "half way across the bay" to reduce sail after seeing the storm signs at your last turn, but chose not to do so?

 

 

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What's with all the Monday morning quarterbacks whose apparent passion is to assign blame.  I didn't race that night but I was playing tennis in Jamestown and can tell you that it was extraordinarily sudden and I would have guessed substantially more than 50.  Why some people need to jump on these threads to knock the OP and attempt to display their supposedly superior seamanship is beyond me.  There were many well-respected and experienced racers who were caught in this.  Sometimes shit happens a little faster than you think it's going to.  For all of you who think you're better or would have avoided it, maybe, but fuck off anyway.

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On 9/16/2020 at 3:37 PM, Student_Driver said:

How did the Alerion sink due to a broach?

Alerion 28 Expresses have very large cockpits, opening cockpit lockers, low freeboard, and a cockpit seat that is just about flush with the companionway. even with washboards in place, it is possible in a knockdown to overwhelm the scuppers and flood the interior through the cockpit lockers. There's not a lot of bilge below so anything that gets down below will essentially be above the floorboards. 

One sank during the Whitebread a few years ago. They'd been taking spray over the bow to begin with, some of which was going down the companionway, got knocked down and flooded the cockpit, the next waves went right over the gunnels and down the companionway. The boat sank very quickly, and whatever buoyancy was supposed to be in the bow escaped in a hiss of air from the hull-deck seam.

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If you monitor channel 16 the USCG will (sometimes) mention the approaching storm.

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14 minutes ago, gullwinkle said:

If you monitor channel 16 the USCG will (sometimes) mention the approaching storm.

most modern vhf radios have a weather guard as well and should swap over to any alerts (if activated). Most racing sailors I know never get off the RC's channel to monitor things properly though.

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