First of all, thank you all very much for the kind words. For those of know me, you know it had to be a good reason for me to turn around, and as I write, I can tell you that being back on land so quickly is painful. I will go into what happened below.
For those who don't know me, please don't assume and remember that sailing is too important to be taken seriously. To the "newbie" who called himself "saxon" on this forum, I can only say the following: you are funny. Your 2 unique posts clearly show your agenda. Keep hiding behind your computer and use SA forum in that extend, it amuses me.
After the start, I opted for an option south in order to sail out of Santa Monica bay and therefore avoid a non-wind zone at night. My routing suggested to go north, which I had plan on doing during the night. I was hoping to have a little breeze at night, and make some distance on Sean who would hopefully be stuck with no wind. At the end, we both ended up with zero wind Saturday night. For those of you who know, no wind means very little sleep. Sean and I talked on Sunday morning and he had made time on me of course, sailing a shorter distance. More than just racing each other at that point, the fight was to get out offshore and finally hook some breeze other than the usual weak thermal southern californian light air. Sean was fine and actually had a good night of rest.
Around noon, the wind finally picked up - about 6-7 knots. I set the code 0 up and was moving well on a very tight angle (about 60 TWA). It was great. The last thing I remember was myself, clipped on, knee pads, standing in the cockpit.
Weeks, months of preparation, stress trying to organize this event, frustration because Sean and I were the only racers, low blood sugar level,...I am not sure but I lost consciousness. Of course, I didn't know I did at the time.
When I "woke up", the wind has gone up - about 12 knots, and further forward. I was over-powered with the code 0. I quickly took it down and went down below to stack my gear to the weather side. I also changed with warmer gear. When I did, I notice a little blood on my leg, really nothing to be concern but couldn't remember how and when I got that scratch.
The wind kept rising. Now on a closed-haul, I reefed the genoa and put two reefs in the main sail. I added more weight to the weather side (5 x 20 liters of water + food and other gear, so roughly about 300 lbs). The boat was sailing really well. It was balanced, comfortable (except for having to dodge waves upwind which is a little wet). Everything was fine. I was heading to San Nicolas Island. The plan was to leave the island to port. The wind was about 21 knots, gusting mid-twenties. At that point, although I was well geared up, I felt cold and very tired. The last hours started to roll back and something was missing. My entire body started to ache. I was missing an hour of that afternoon. I couldn’t remembered what happened between 12pm and 1pm. It was probably about 4:00pm when I picked up my sat phone and called my doctor (pre-programed into my speed dial). After a quick explanation, not knowing if I really hurt myself, he suggested to turn around and have a full check-up to make sure no concussion was in fact in effect. He also mentioned not to go to sleep. It was about 5-5:30pm. This was really the first time I actually looked at the clock since my “episode”. I was about 70nm offshore and only about 3 hours left of day light. I turned the boat downwind, gybed to port, set the auto pilot, jumped down below to move the weight aft and on the new weather side. I also emptied 3 of my 5 20 liters drinking water containers and headed back to Marina Del Rey. Another adrenaline rush and the boat covered almost 30nm in 3 hours. It was a great ride, one of those that, still as I type, makes me deeply miss those surfs in the trades to Hawaii. I had just enough wind to sail through the shipping lanes. The wind died slowly but surely. At 3am, about 10nm from the harbor, the race committee was there to help out. Thank you so much! They jumped on the boat and escorted me to the harbor.
I was lucky and can’t wait to go back out. I have sailed to Hawaii once on the boat and will do it again. Doctors and friends all suggested I sit this one out.
I feel for Sean who is alone out there. Racing is tough enough. Being the only boat, it is even harder. On these races, you usually find the courage to keep going because you know others are out there as well, fighting the elements and suffering too. It is going to take Sean everything to dig deep inside and find the right resources to keep going. I have been on the phone with him since I got back and he is in good spirit. We are sharing a lot. We have both practice intensively for the past 6 months and became close friends. I am planning on flying to Hawaii and make sure he gets another night of no sleep celebrating!!
If there’s only one boat racing, it is the right one. Whether it is a Pogo 2, a Zero or any other Minis, it is all one big family. Even if there’s only one boat racing, there will be more for the next one.
For those (newbie Saxon) who think it was just a marketing joke, go back to golfing, get a life and stop polluting our sport behind your computer.
For everyone who supported the event, for everyone who helped us putting this from scratch, thank you again so much. All the work is going to be useful for years to come: the Mini 650 Pacific Challenge is there to stay, and “Rome wasn’t built in one day”.
Pogo 2 USA 806
Team Open Sailing