Lawson has detour while on tour

Published on September 5th, 2022

Donald Lawson, who acquired the ORMA 60 Trimaran Mighty Merloe from Howard Enloe in April 2022 for a program of record-setting and education, required rescue services when his 60-foot trimaran initiated a distress call on August 31.

The delicate multihull, which set the Transpac Race record in 2017 of 04:06:32:30, was aground on Anacapa Island, a small volcanic island located about 12nm off the Southern California coast. When TowBoatUS arrived, they found the vessel wedged into a rocky cove and against a cliff with the mast hitting the cliff.

They also encountered a large kelp bed and shallow waters that prevented resources from getting too close. To get the victims out of harm’s way and to act as quickly as possible to preserve the value of the vessel and before pollution could have occurred within the Channel Islands National Park and NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, Captain Carson Shevitz swam in to bring a towing hawser through the kelp and make an attachment to the vessel.

The crew had trouble anchoring which led to the incident, but Captain Lawson disputes the characterization by TowBoatUS, stating how the mast was never an issue and is fine, and while the boat was against the cove, it was floating without problem.

The vessel, now called Defiant, and the two people on board, were safely removed from the island and towed 16nm to Ventura Harbor.

Originally Groupama 2, it was the last ORMA class trimaran to be built, launched in 2004 and winning five ORMA championships under skipper Franck Cammas. After serving as Oracle Team USA’s training platform for the 33rd America’s Cup in 2010, the VPLP designed 60-footer was sold to Enloe in 2014.

Captain Lawson and his Dark Seas Project team had been conducting a west coast tour with the boat visiting sailing centers, yacht clubs, and school teaching about DE&I (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) opportunities in the maritime industry as well as environmental benefits clean energy systems provide.

Lawson reported on September 3 that the boat is now in Los Angeles for the next couple months to prepare for his first record run in the late fall.

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