On board, all from Phuket, were Owner David Liddell; Skipper Helen Ruud – originally from Sweden, now Phuket-based and part of the well-known Lady Sevenstar all-women racing crew; Navigator Allan Mossop; Crewmen Mathew Bryant and Samuel Liam “Alfie” Rowson from the Phuket Yacht Club; and Alan Carwardine, designer and builder of the Phuket Stealth catamarans, including Wow.
Mossop, a regular crewman on Wow in the Phuket Yacht Club race series, confirmed to The Phuket News yesterday (Jan 11), “We are all safe and accounted for. We got into Walvis Bay, Namibia, last Friday (Jan 6).
“(We) Put the boat on the beach to do some checks and work that needed to be done. Crew in fine form and heading home in a few days,” he added.
Regarding the conditions that brought on the breakages, Mossop explained, “Winds and swell were perfect. The boat was making a bit more noise under the bridge deck than Alan had expected, but for those of us who had sailed her across the Indian Ocean it was nothing new.
“Great conditions all in all with 20 knots S/SE and the 3-4 m swell on the beam. We were pushing 18-25 knots surfing the swell with the boat handling tremendously well. “
Then one dagger board, designed with a crumple zone at the tip to better cope with scrapes in shallow waters, gave way. Then the replacement dagger board also broke.
“Disappointed is too impotent a word to describe the current situation,” Mossop noted in first reporting Wow’s retirement from the race, noting is was “The kind of day that Douglas Adams says would ‘make St Francis of Assisi want to kick babies’.”
“We all knew that we were heading into the unknown with the boat before we started and were immensely proud to be the first to race a Stealth across the Atlantic and to have had Alan on board.
“David has never made any bones about how he races his boats and pushes hard to achieve results. Something we love and respect him for,” he explained.
“It’s not the first time we have had to retire from a race and won’t be the last, although this time it was not just a hop round Koh Lone for repairs and a beer.
“We have all raced together over the years and formed a tight crew immediately and understood that results are not possible without pushing the envelope. We all agree that Alan’s Stealth design is a superb blend of cruising racer. A gentlemen’s racer if you wish. Mat says he has never been so comfortable on an ocean race. Dry warm and well fed,” he explained.
The crew will now head in different directions, Mossop noted.
“Alfie and Alan will head to Phuket in the next few days. Mat will stay on for a bit before heading to the States,” he said.
“David and Helen will continue to the Caribbean in the next few weeks once the new dagger boards have been completed,” he added.
Wow was not the only victim of the harsh pace set in the early stages of the race. The crew on the 60-foot Lavranos Trekker 2 experienced a rudder failure and started taking in water, prompting the crew to elevate their Pan Pan (request for assistance) to a Mayday (vessel and lives on board in immediate danger). MRCC Maritime rescue diverted two cargo vessels to assist, with MV Golafruz taking them safely on board.
Meanwhile, the crew on board the Farr 40 Dark Matter made their way safely back to Cape Town under their own power.
The Cape2Rio, traversing roughly 3,600nm (more than 6,000km), is the longest continent-to-continent yacht race in the southern hemisphere. With its origins tracing back some 46 years, the epic journey is also known throughout its history as the South Atlantic Race.
The race record was set in 2014 by Italian Open 70 Maserati, skippered by Giovanni Soldini, smashing the previous record with a time of 10 days 11 hours and 29 minutes.