US SAILING Communications Manager
PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (November 22, 2011) – US Sailing has announced that Philip Sauer (Honolulu, Hawaii), the owner of Second Chance, a 44-foot sloop, and his crew will be awarded a Hanson Rescue Medal. The crew of nine rescued a kayaker as their boat was approaching the finish line of the 2011 Transpacific Yacht Race in Diamond Head, Hawaii on July 19. The Second Chance crew consisted of Sauer, skipper Harry Krum, Charles Clark, Mary Howard, Curt Ingram, Thomas Andrews, Graham Paine, Edward Atwell, and Randall Alcorn.
After 2,225 miles and two weeks of hard racing at sea, Second Chance’s crew was looking for the red finish line buoy when they spotted a red object in the water. As they approached the object, it became clear this was no buoy but a kayaker. Guy Wilding, the USA Canoe/Kayak National Coach, had broken his paddle on the back of a sea turtle, fallen out of the kayak, and been swimming for four hours.
As Second Chance crew member Mary Howard observed, “It's a good thing he was wearing red. We were looking for a red buoy.”
Sauer and his crew were not about to give Wilding a wave and sail on to finish the race. The Racing Rules of Sailing are in full conformance with the best traditions of the sea. Rule 1 states, “A boat or competitor shall give all possible help to any person or vessel in danger.”
The crew was well prepared to handle this situation. “Several of our crew attended a Safety-at-Sea seminar in Long Beach the day before the race," said Clark. "Harry, our skipper, assigned each crew member specific positions and responsibilities for the ‘battle stations’ and ‘man overboard’ commands.”
A spotter was posted to point at Wilding. The sails came down and the engine was started. A life buoy was thrown, and in a timely manner, Wilding was safely on board Second Chance and on his way to a reunion with his wife on shore, who had been trying to get local authorities to begin a search.
“What I learned from this incident is how important it is to include safety precautions with kayaks or PWCs," said Clark. "At a minimum, the victim should have had a PFD and some sort of signaling device. I saw, first hand, how easy it is to lose visual contact with a person or object in the water when a boat is traveling over six knots in heavy seas. By the time we dropped the spinnaker pole and came about, we briefly lost visual contact with the victim. Fortunately, we had several spotters pointing in his direction and, consequently, we were able to regain visual contact very quickly.”
Second Chance got a second chance in the race. After hauling Wilding on board, the crew found the red buoy and crossed the finish line. After the race committee gave them redress for the time they had spent saving a life, they finished sixth in the Transpac’s Aloha Division.
The Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal is awarded by US SAILING’s Safety-at-Sea Committee to any person who rescues or endeavors to rescue any other person from drowning, shipwreck, or other perils at sea within the territorial waters of the United States, or as part of a sailboat race or voyage that originated or stopped in the U.S. Since it was established in 1990 by friends of the late Mr. Hanson, an ocean-racing sailor from the Chesapeake Bay, the Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal has been presented to more than 180 boats.
Any individual or organization may submit a nomination for a Hanson Rescue Medal. For more information, including nomination forms, please go to http://offshore.ussailing.org/SAS/Hanson_Rescue_Award.htm.
For the most authoritative daylong seminar on safe seamanship, heavy weather tactics, weather forecasting, communications and boat preparation, register for an upcoming US SAILING Safety-at-Sea Seminar. Please visit the US SAILING Safety-at-Sea Seminar site for details on these certification opportunities at http://offshore.ussailing.org/SAS/Seminars/SAS_Calendar.htm.
The United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), the national governing body for sailing, provides leadership, integrity, and growth for the sport in the United States. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, US SAILING is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. US Sailing offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country, including National Championships and the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics. For more information, please visit us at www.ussailing.org .