Donzo Wilkinson

MR.CLEAN

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http://www.theday.com/article/20100905/NWS01/309059854/-1/NWS

A sailboat owned by a Groton man ran aground Saturday afternoon during a race marred by a fatality aboard another boat.<br class="hardreturn">

The incidents occurred during a race sponsored by the Fishers Island Yacht Club.<br class="hardreturn">

In an unrelated incident, the Coast Guard rescued four people Saturday night from a boat, a 28-foot O'Day, that ran aground southwest of Ram Island at the mouth of the Mystic River.<br class="hardreturn">

Earlier, Greg Cypherd, chief of the Fishers Island Fire Department, confirmed that a fatality had occurred involving "someone that was sailing" - apparently during the Fishers Island race - but refused to provide any other information.<br class="hardreturn">

Police in Southold, Long Island, referred questions to New York State Police, who had provided no information late Saturday night.<br class="hardreturn">

During the race, the 29-foot vessel Showdown ran aground on South Dumpling Island, where it was to remain overnight, according to Lt.j.g. John Vasilarakis, command duty officer of Coast Guard Sector Long Island in New Haven.<br class="hardreturn">

None of the 10 crewmen aboard Showdown were harmed, Vasilarakis said Saturday night.<br class="hardreturn">

Matt Lettrich of Noank and Ted Parker of Mystic, who had set out to watch the race in Parker's 20-foot boat, spotted the Showdown and ended up ferrying the crippled vessel's crew back to Mystic. In photographs taken by Lettrich, the Showdown appears to be seriously damaged.<br class="hardreturn">

Calls placed to the Groton home of the Showdown's owner, Bijan Rasadi, went unanswered.<br class="hardreturn">

"We saw Showdown's spinnaker in a somewhat ugly configuration and I said, 'Gee, they're stuck, they're going to hit the rocks,' and they did," Lettrich said in a phone interview Saturday night. "We took (the crew) up the Mystic (River), but it was too rough to move the boat."<br class="hardreturn">

A commercial towing vessel arrived at the scene shortly after the grounding, as did a Coast Guard boat dispatched from New London, according to Vasilarakis.<br class="hardreturn">

The Coast Guard received a call about the grounding shortly after 2 p.m., Vasilarakis said. The wind at the time was 23 knots, gusting to 30 knots, he said.<br class="hardreturn">

Lettrich, who races regularly as a member of the Mystic River Mudheads Sailing Association, said Saturday's wind would have made for "an exciting race." He said the Mudheads ran the race, which the Fishers Island Yacht Club sponsored.<br class="hardreturn">

Because of the strong winds, the race, which was to have been sailed around Fishers Island, was limited to the waters between Fishers Island and Connecticut's coast, Lettrich said.<br class="hardreturn">

In the Mystic grounding, the Coast Guard dispatched two boats — a 41-footer and a 25-footer — as well as a helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, according to Pete Winters, a civilian search and rescue controller at Coast Guard Sector Long Island.<br class="hardreturn">

The helicopter turned around en route to the scene after the 25-foot boat was able to maneuver alongside the grounded boat and transfer those onboard, Winters said.<br class="hardreturn">

The boat's owner had indicated the boat's keel was about to break off, in which case those on board planned to jump off and swim to Ram Island, Winters said.<br class="hardreturn">

"I didn't want that to happen, so we sent everything we had," he said.<br class="hardreturn">

No other details were available late Saturday night, including the names on board the grounded boat. Winters said the boat was out of New London.

 
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mlachance

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Mudheads are in mourning due to loss of "Donzo" Wilkinson. It was reported at the FIYC after the race, that he suffered head trauma during accidental gybe aboard the very well sailed Mumm 30 "One More Time".

"Donzo" was an excellent sailor who co-founded the Mudheads. Many tears and sadness and shock throughout the community...

Conditions: 6-9' seas left over from Earl, winds mid-20's gusting higher. RC kept all classes inside the Sound rather than rounding Fisher's Island. Also, there were a couple MOBs (recovered without incident) and two other boats boats on rocks, "Persistance", a Pearson 36-2 was pulled off Horseshoe Reef but the J-29 "Showdown" was destroyed on South Dumpling.

 

DogBalls

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Yes, I got an email from my father this morning that Donzo was lost yesterday. Very shocked to hear such a wonderful guy was lost doing what he loved. Thoughts go out to everyone in the area, including every Med Head, and to Donzo's family and friends.

He said conditions were wild and there was a lot of damage to the boats that sailed. A Swan 45 destroyed a jib, two boats lost rudders, the boat hitting South Dumpling and that a friend prevented another possible fatality by rescuing a MOB in his powerboat.

Again, my thoughts to everyone in the Mud Head community and to Donzo's family and friends.

 

mlachance

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http://www.theday.com/article/20100905/NWS01/100909790/1047

Experienced Noank sailor killed in Fishers Island race

By Joe Wojtas

Publication: TheDay.com

Published 09/05/2010 12:00 AMUpdated 09/05/2010 12:58 PM

Fishers Island, N.Y. — New York State Police have identified the man killed in Saturday's sailboat race in Fishers Island Sound as Donald Wilkinson, 54, of Noank.

Wilkinson, an experienced sailor who is married with two children, was struck in the head by a boom during the 2:19 p.m. incident which occurred between North Hill and South Dumpling. Police are investigating the cause of his injury.

Wilkinson, who was among a half-dozen people on the boat, was taken to Noank by rescue personel and then to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital. Wilkinson, who owns Northeast Storm Protection LLC, is a member of the Mystic River Mudheads and the Ram Island Yacht Club.

Saturday's around Fishers Island race was instead held within Fishers Island Sound because of windy conditions.

"There was nothing wrong with being out there yesterday for an experienced sailor or boats. There was nothing unusual about the day," said his father-in-law George Hohsenstein who was among the friends and relatives gathering at Wilkinson's Harbor Court home late this morning. "It was just a tragic accident."

Another sailboat participating in the race ran aground on South Dumpling and was badly damaged. Its crew was rescued by two men aboard a boat watching the race. There were no injuries.

 

mlachance

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J-29 "Showdown" on South Dumpling

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and same a little while later..

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sailorbob

Anarchist
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Donzo was a great guy and an awesome sailor. When I was rebuilting EVELUTION, a 1981 Bob Evelyn IOR designed 41 footer, he contacted me, sharing many stories of helping build and campaign her, then offered great advice on the best way to bring her back to sailing trim. He was an UBER-Lewmar rep always will advice you knew you could trust. I remember calling him up looking for advice on the best way to rebuild my 3-speed primaries. That evening he met me on the boat and got down and dirty, showing me the pro way to strip down, clean inspect and restore my winches.....both of them. He then went on to help disassemble, clean, and restore the other 10 winches with me.

Later on I called on him at his home during the day, again looking for some advice. He met me at the door with a baby on his hip. That's when I found out he was also an Uber-dad. While I moved away after that I always knew I could all on him. I'm sure I'm not the only one he treated so well.

What else can I say.....I miss him already.

Bob

 

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mlachance

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Don "Donzo" Wilkinson. 1956-2010

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Mudhead Commodore 1979-80 1999-2001

http://mudhead.org/

Memorial Service

The memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, September 11 at 10 am at Mystic Congregational Church at the Civil War traffic circle in Mystic. This will be followed by a reception at Ram Island Yacht Club.

 

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mlachance

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latest article from the New London Day...http://www.theday.com/article/20100906/NWS01/309069924/1018

Friends mourn sailor's death in 'tragic accident'

By Julianne Hanckel

Publication: The Day

Published 09/06/2010 12:00 AMUpdated 09/06/2010 03:28 AM Photo Courtesy of the Wilkinson familyDonald Wilkinson was the founding commodore for the Mystic River Mudhead Sailing Association. Photo Courtesy of the Wilkinson familyDonald Wilkinson was the founding commodore for the Mystic River Mudhead Sailing Association.

Noank man struck by boat's boom during race

Groton - As an avid sailor, Donald "Donzo" Wilkinson of Noank raced hard and had an infectious laugh.

At 54, he had decades of experience on the water and had captained private yachts and sailboats.

"Not only did he understand the wind and the waves and the tide and the weather, he understood how boats were built and what made them go fast," said Greg Gilmartin, racing committee chairman for the Mystic River Mudhead Sailing Association.

But all of Wilkinson's experience did not prevent what happened during a sailboat race in Fishers Island Sound Saturday afternoon.

Wilkinson was aboard the 30-foot sailboat One More Time when he was struck on top of his head by the boat's boom. It knocked him unconscious.

A fellow crew member among the half dozen on board the Mumm 30 performed CPR on Wilkinson until emergency personnel arrived, according to his father-in-law, George Hohenstein. Wilkinson was brought to shore and then to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London where he died. An autopsy is scheduled to be performed by the Office of the Chief State Medical Examiner.

"He died doing what he loved and it was just a tragic accident," Hohenstein said Sunday. "To all of us that sail, we are aware that could happen at anytime."

Wilkinson was the husband of Anne Hohenstein Wilkinson and the father of Ben and Sarah Wilkinson.

Because of Saturday's windy conditions, a small craft advisory was issued and the race was held inside of more protected Fishers Island Sound instead of going around the island.

Another sailboat participating in the race ran aground on South Dumpling Island and was badly damaged. Its crew was rescued by two men aboard a boat watching the race. There were no injuries in that incident.

But Hohenstein said the conditions had nothing to do with Wilkinson's death.

"There was nothing wrong with being out there yesterday for an experienced sailor or boats. There was nothing unusual about the day," Hohenstein said.

Described by Hohenstein as a "lifetime sailor," Wilkinson was not an amateur.

He was the founding commodore for the Mystic River Mudhead Sailing Association, serving from 1979-1980 and again from 1999-2001. He also served on the Board of Managers from 1981-1983.

Gilmartin called Wilkinson the "heart and soul of the Mudhead organization."

He was a graduate of Fitch High School in Groton and for the past 10 years has owned Northeast Storm Protection, a company specializing in products designed to protect and limit damage to window and door openings caused by high winds, water and flying debris.

The flag outside the Wilkinson's Harbor Court home flew at half staff Sunday while friends and family members gathered to console one another.

Among them was friend and neighbor Peter Bergendahl.

Twenty years ago, their friendship began competitively as they sailed against each other in regattas stretching from Newport, R.I., to Key West, Fla.

"He was the most competent person on a boat I've had the pleasure of sailing with," Bergendahl said. "We spend a lot of time together other than sailing. It's quite a loss."

A celebration of Wilkinson's life will be held Saturday at the Mystic Congregational Church.

The family is asking those planning to attend to wear flip-flops and Hawaiian shirts because he was "most-comfortable in that," Gilmartin said.

"He had an infectious laugh, he was full of life and he enjoyed it," Gilmartin said. "The way he laughed was just a part of it."

 
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fisoundsailor

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noank, ct
Mudheads are in mourning due to loss of "Donzo" Wilkinson. It was reported at the FIYC after the race, that he suffered head trauma during accidental gybe aboard the very well sailed Mumm 30 "One More Time".

"Donzo" was an excellent sailor who co-founded the Mudheads. Many tears and sadness and shock throughout the community...

Conditions: 6-9' seas left over from Earl, winds mid-20's gusting higher. RC kept all classes inside the Sound rather than rounding Fisher's Island. Also, there were a couple MOBs (recovered without incident) and two other boats boats on rocks, "Persistance", a Pearson 36-2 was pulled off Horseshoe Reef but the J-29 "Showdown" was destroyed on South Dumpling.
The story above is slightly incorrect: it was not an 'accidental gybe'...it was a planned gybe at a mark of the course.

 
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