Four yachts retire from Pensacola a la Habana Race

Published on November 1st, 2015

(November 1, 2015) – Rough conditions during the first 24-hours of the 2015 Andrews Institute Pensacola a la Habana race have resulted in 4 of the 22 starters needing to retire.

The home-made catamaran ‘Surf Rider’ and the Island Packet 27 ‘Island Sun’ returned to Pensacola Bay Saturday afternoon. ‘Makani U’l’, a Beneteau 40, suffered damage to her jib halyard and roller-furler system and is headed to St. Petersburg, Florida for repairs. ‘Midnight Sun II’, a Hunter 42, was dismasted at midnight and motored back to Pensacola Yacht Club (PYC) by 8:30 AM CST.

Neil Davies, skipper of ‘Midnight Sun II’, said they had been sailing in 22-25 kts of wind through 5-7 foot seas. The highest wind they had seen was 30kts in gusts. “At Halloween midnight, the wind had just begun to drop off,” Davies said. “It was now blowing about 16 kts and the seas were settling. I was below and heard the ‘pop and crash’. The mast went over the port side and the boom landed on the arch over the cockpit. We think that the head stay broke at the mast-top, but we jettisoned the mast to protect the hull so we can’t confirm that. Thanks to the boom arch we were all unhurt.”

The Pensacola crew of ‘Midnight Sun II’ is determined to go to Cuba. They moved all of their supplies to their crew mate’s— Larry and Tracy Cost— Beneteau 473, ‘Trasea’, and left the second time at 1:30PM Sunday.

“We may be a day behind,” said past Commodore Ron Bray. “But we will be there for the trophy presentation and maybe we will win the ‘rally’ part of the regatta.” The crew of ‘Midnight Sun’ now aboard ‘Trasea’ may win the party, too.

Several boats on the course are not displayed on the Kattack tracking site. ‘Déjà Vu’, a C&C 34, has not been tracked since around 5PM Saturday… 20 hours, but her position had been reported by another vessel, ‘Radio Flyer’, that tacked over to starboard with her at 8PM. At 11:30AM ‘Déjà Vu’ finally called PYC and reported all was OK with them. They were at 28.59ºN 86.25ºW. They were heading 98º at 6kts. Wind was 18-22 Kts, seas 5-7 feet. Family and friends were relieved to know their loved ones were safe. ‘Déjà Vu’ had been over the starting line early. They had to restart so they got a slow start.

The call from ‘Déjà Vu’ came just before the US Coast Guard was set to launch a Search & Rescue mission. ‘Déjà Vu’ was back on the tracking board by 2:00PM Sunday.

‘Lesson #1’, a J-130, was having a tracking system malfunction, but has been sending information to a Facebook page. Also by SatPhone contact at about 10AM with the race committee at Pensacola Yacht Club, ‘Lesson #1’ gave her position near the rhumb-line and was the closest boat to Cuba at 27.56ºN latitude. They said the winds had moderated and they had blue sky. ‘Tif Blue’ is apparently appearing under the tracker named ‘Lesson #1’ on the Kattack screen.

As the boats sail into the southern Gulf of Mexico the easterly trade winds should kick back in and give the remaining 17 boats the kind of sailing they signed up for.

Race websiteTracker

Report by Talbot Wilson

Course: The 2015 race is 511 nautical miles from Pensacola to Havana. The new race started October 31 with the tide at the end of the Bayou Chico Channel, heads through Pensacola Pass, leaves the sea buoy #1 to starboard and heads straight to Havana leaving Rebecca Shoals Light to port. Twenty-one boats are competing in three divisions — 10 Modern Cruisers, 7 Classic Cruisers, and 4 Multihulls.

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