Harken Derm

One of the craziest days of our lives

Published on April 14th, 2019

Fourteen year old Dylan Flack was competing at 2019 Charleston Race Week in what was his first sportboat regatta, and an incident happened to his Melges 24 team that will forever be etched in his memory. Here’s his story:


It was the final race of the regatta, and with the clock winding down, there was a tight race between both Mudratz boats in the overall standings. This was a race not only for standings, but ultimate bragging rights and glory.

As we rounded the windward mark for the home stretch our boat, Opportunity, was behind the other boat, Equal Opportunity, by a few boat lengths. We knew we had to catch them, no matter the cost.

Our set was flawless, probably our best of the regatta, a great improvement from our first set. Remember, this was our third day sailing together, ever. As I saw the kite fill, I watched our rival’s kite collapse. Their kite needed to be dowsed because of a problem with the sheets. This was a major victory.

“As long as we don’t screw up, we’ve got this in the bag!” I happily yelled.

We had all three sails going and we were ripping. I had my eye on the speedometer and watched the numbers grow faster and faster and faster. It seemed to never stop, but when I saw the number 17.2 knots, I heard a crack. And then another. And then another. Before we knew it, our jib and spinnaker were in the water and our main – and what was left of the mast – covered the cockpit.

Mast failure began with a crane failure.

After confirmation that all crew members were okay we assessed the damage. Our mast had snapped in two places and was dangling from the lifeline. Our spinnaker was caught in the rigging and underneath the boat. Our jib was submerged with the top of the mast. With our crew in good shape, not even a scratch, it was time to come back to earth and realize what had just happened.

After getting the ripped spinnaker free, we were working on the main. We had two power boats near us, one a safety boat and the other containing my parents. Then, all of the sudden, our hero appeared. Nate Fast, a sailor from our area in Connecticut, was on a power boat coming toward us. This left us very relieved. Nate jumped on, assessed the damage, and gave us each jobs. Eventually, we were brought back to the dock.

On the way in, we had realized that not only had my mom gotten the whole incident on camera, but a crew member, Baxter Menzies was wearing his GoPro the whole time! This was the best feeling of the day, we knew that something good would come out of this. We reached the dock to further de-rig, and we (or at least I) never stopped smiling, even knowing that we had lost by two points to our teammates. This was one of the craziest days of our lives.

 

 

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