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Thread: 2017 California Offshore Sail Week

  1. #51
    Just saw Snafu driving along Clement ave in Alameda. Didn't look too banged up considering...

  2. #52
    I am happy to hear the guys are well and that the boat was recovered. Having been through this last summer and limping into Santa Barbara under jury rig, I'd be very interested to hear their story. I can't imagine being lifted off and watching the boat disappear behind the helo. That thought just makes my insides twist. Good job recovering the boat.DSCF1488.jpg

  3. #53
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    Just off the phone with Gilles... will tap out an interview shortly... Amazing story...
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery

  4. #54
    Lots of boats saw winds in high 30's.

    Kites bits and pieces all over Santa Barbara YC.

  5. #55
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    2017 Coastal Cup : The Legend Of Snafu

    "We were in some deep shit" Says Gilles Combrisson, who was sailing double handed on the Moore 24 Snafu with Karl Robrock in this years Coastal Cup, a modified version, some 204 nm from Monterey to Santa Barbara.

    "We got into it early, just south of Point Sur, with winds in the med to high 20's with big puffs in the 30's. It was grungy" Gilles adds.

    The pair are no slouches to offshore racing in Moore 24's and both have logged thousands of miles on Snafu, including winning the Iwi Double Handed division in the Pac Cup in 2014. However the sea state with a building short period NW swell in the 10-14 range had coupled with a southern swell that in turn created a reverberating swell bouncing back off the cliff walls of Big Sur, creating a confused sea of epic proportions.

    The pair had already reduced sail area, downsizing to a shy kite, then just a poled out jib, from the A 2.5 they began the day with. The main was also already fully reefed, yet the pressure zone they found themselves in was relentless. "We were hitting high teens and maxed out at 20.3knots at one point" Gilles recalled. "We had crashed hard a few times with the shy kite up and had decided to go with just the jib poled out, it is almost as effective as the shy kite, except the lulls are far greater and the helm isn't as balanced, it goes from weather helm to lee helm really fast" .

    Snafu at start of Coastal Cup, images © Ashley Hobson

    Darkness was approaching and the guys had gone into their 1 hour on, one hour off routine to try and preserve energy. Gilles had just returned to watch from his hour off and was still groggy. The two had jibed the boat onto port tack and were on a rhumb line down the coast averaging 15 knots. "We had gotten in to a rather large wave train" Gilles says "And the troughs were scary big, so big that during a couple sets we would get flung down the faces, the boat on its side and it felt like we were foiling on the keel. Then we would crash into the bottom and the bow would auger in... Never felt that before on a Moore" In retrospect, Gilles believes that they probably had too much weight forward, something they hadn't tended to as the wind had come up so quickly and they had been busy with the boat handling.

    And then the unimaginable happened. Karl was up front on the bow, and the boat rounded up and got pinned. Immediately they were slammed by a huge wave and the mast folded over. "It was surreal" recalls Gilles."I could not believe what I was seeing, or couldn't see, and the was Karl" Gilles pauses for a moment before continuing "My biggest phobia with these boats is losing someone overboard in conditions like this. It's pretty much game over" Gilles called out into the darkness


    image courtesy USCG

    Miraculously, when the rig came down, the main impact went to the front pulpit and Karl had gotten tossed into the lifelines and remained on board, relatively unharmed aside from some scrapes and bruises.

    The 1st order of business was to call for help. A frantic search for the handheld VHF yielded nothing. With the mast top antennae now at sea level, and the communication cable wound up in the pieces of the broken mast, the two realized their lifeline to the outside world perilously near evaporating, they put out a pan-pan with the mounted unit. A huge sigh of relief when their signal was received by USCG Station Morro Bay as well a 3 boats in the vicinity, Ray Paul's Swan 53 Blue, which was some 15 miles further south , James Goldbergs J-109 Junkyard Dog and Rodney Pimentel's Cal 40 Azure.

    With the USCG now coordinating communications and directing traffic, Gilles and Karl did their best to clean up the mess. " The main was pretty much ensnared in mast and wasn't coming out anytime soon, so we did our best to get as much of the rigging and sail out of the water and lash it down." Gilles states " The seas and wind were still gnarly and it was all you could do to stay on board when getting tossed about."

    On board Azure, EYC's Commodore Jim Vickers sprung into action. "We were 6 miles N-NE of them and locked onto their DSC signal. We dropped the jib and went to just the main and changed course." Jim recalls

    "Seas were really crappy and with no lights on their boat we could not spot them". Communicating with Station Morro Bay, they got a message to Snafu to fire a signal parachute flare. "It was a thing of beauty" says Jim, It really lit up the sky and for a brief while we could see them plain as day."Still it took Azure another 1/2 hour to get to them. Jim Goldberg and crew on Junkyard Dog arrived a bit early and were on standby when Azure arrived. "The guys on Azure are rockstars and the experience on that boat was obvious as soon as they showed up. A few of our crew were sea sick from the upwind, up-swell motoring so we were very fortunate to have the help and experience of team Azure close by. Their communications with the coasties was I'm sure much more polished and helpful than ours under those conditions!" Jim Goldberg

    The Coasties would arrive a couple hour and a half later, bashing their way through the dark all the way from Morro Bay.

    They would conduct their survey, ask the questions that needed to be asked and assess the situation. Shortly after midnight they released Azure and Junkyard Dog.
    The USCG's primary role in these situations is the preservation of life. The possibility of a tow were acknowledged but accessing the situation they deemed it too dangerous. The Patrol boat agreed to stay on station until daylight, and Karl And Gilles retreated below to try and warm up. The boat had remained on port tack through the incident, and with the lashed sail/mast mess on starboard side, the rudder lashed to starboard, she was sort of hoved to, and making 1.2 knots towards Morro Bay. "I was freezing, my hands were numb" Recalls Gilles "We both needed some shut eye, but getting tossed about in those conditions was really uncomfortable, but at least we had eyes out looking after us, so the fear of getting run over by a freighter was reduced"

    Dawn would break and a 2nd USCG vessel would arrive on the scene. A daylight evaluation would ensue and then it came down to brass tacks. The USCG determined that towing the vessel in was still off the table, as was the plan to have the crew jumping in to the water to swim over to rescue boat. Even the option of Snafu inflating their raft and being pulled over was discussed but deem unsafe. The helo option was decided upon.

    The original plan was to have the chopper lower down a diver directly to the boat, but that was scuttled do to fear the rig and sailed might get blown about in the prop wash . "You are going to need to dive in the water "Gilles reflects... teeth still chattering from the cold night, he was the 1st one in. He had left all his possessions aside from phone, car keys and wallet behind. His auto inflation lifejacket failing to auto inflate." I was now hyperventilating and having a hard time in the waves not swallowing water. The diver swam a body crate over to be and had me climb in, and then gave me some specific instructions, but my mind was not functioning and I couldn't really comprehend his words. It wasn't until my hands were banging on the side of the helo that his speech about keeping hands inside the basket made sense."

    Karl would be lifted next and once both were aboard, given blankets and situated in the back of the copter, they started bleeding their Musto foulies, which seem to hold water in as well as keep water in. " Must have been 2 gallons each" Gilles laughs.

    As they peered out the helo window, the two saw Snafu slowly disappear from view, and as they climbed through the clouds and into bright sunshine, the irony of the situation and the boats name was not lost. "We had just abandoned our boat, something we thought we would never do. But we were safe. And headed home."

    all images courtesy Snafu except where noted

    The guys were delivered to San Louis Obispo Medical Center and met by a team of EMT's and Firefighter who greeted them with open arms. " They went above and beyond, provided us with hot showers, clean warm dry clothes and even rinsed and dried our clothes for us, then gave us hot coffee and the best breakfast burritos we have ever had. Really great guys!

    The Salvage:
    Back on dry land, the news had already begun to spread of the Snafu's dire situation, and members of the Moore 24 family had taken some initiative to assist. Michael Brink of SLO Tours was notified and came to the rescue. Michael was still on the road, returning from a weekend in San Diego when he got the call. "I was in Santa Barbara headed north, so I gave them directions to my launch in Morro Bay and met them about two hours later. Mike said . Karl's Mom had volunteered to bring the trailer down to Santa Barbara, but diverted to Morro Bay when she heard the news from Karl of the new plans. Michael, Karl and Gilles would hop in Michaels 28' Aluminum Rib and charge out to the boat, still waddling towards the shore, all on her own. "It took nearly two hours of bashing to get to her, just 12 miles out" Mike mentions "But only 1/2 as much time coming back".

    It took some adjusting and a 60' rode, but they got the boat and rode adjusted, and with Karl back at the helm found the sweet spot where Snafu could surf along quite nicely at 12-15 knots...

    The boat is back home now, a bit bedraggled from the wear and tear. It appears she will enjoy some time off as Karl enters a new phase in life. Fatherhood! Yes the Robrocks are expecting a new bundle of joy in the near future, joining the Combrisson's who are also parents to a future Moore 24 superstar. "I'm 44 and feeling it" says Gilles "My muscles ache sooner and the ache lasts longer anymore, the circulation isn't quite what it used to be. I'm looking forward to this next chapter."
    Last edited by Photoboy; 06-01-2017 at 10:02 AM.
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery

  6. #56
    Seems like snafu wants to sail some moore!

  7. #57
    Some guys will do anything for a free helicopter ride.

  8. #58
    On this day of the lord, May 31 2017, the term "grungy" ins introduced to the sailing universe lexicon!

  9. #59
    So glad this worked out as well as it did and that they were able to take so many pics!

  10. #60
    Quote Originally Posted by psycho tiller View Post
    It was a wild ride down the coast that's for sure! Very glad to hear the guys on snafu made it out ok and were able to recover the boat. We were already in "lets just get through this safe" mode when we heard the distress call from snafu over the radio. The coast guard asked Blue to remain on standby but they were already about 15 miles further south. We soon realized snafu was located just a couple miles east of us. After a bit of discussion with the coast guard and snafu we abandoned racing and started making our way over to their location. The guys on Azure also came over to help out and remained on standby with us very soon after we arrived. The guys on Azure are rockstars and the experience on that boat was obvious as soon as they showed up. A few of our crew were sea sick from the upwind, up-swell motoring so we were very fortunate to have the help and experience of team Azure close by. Their communications with the coasties was I'm sure much more polished and helpful than ours under those conditions!

    We ripped our A4 earlier in the race and at that point only had our main up. I'm not sure how big the swell was, at the time coast guard mentioned something about 10-12 with isolated waves to 14. Winds most of the night were high 20's to mid 30's though our instruments briefly hit 40 knots TWS a handful of times. Whatever the numbers were, dropping the main in the dark and trying to get it secured to the boom in those conditions was quite a challenge in itself. Though it pales in comparison to the work the guys on Snafu had to do to secure their rig to the boat.

    It was sobering to learn how hard it is to find a 24' boat in the dark located just 2 miles away without a rig/masthead light. Even with gps coordinates it was like a needle in a haystack. We eventually found snafu, again made radio contact and were relieved to hear they were still ok. Another sobering moment was thinking through a way to get them onto our boat in those conditions if they needed to abandon snafu. I'm glad it didn't come to that because although I'm sure we would have found a way, it would have been ugly. They were only making 1-2 knots of boat speed with their outboard and parts of the rig dragging in the water so we just circled around them under engine for the next couple hours before the coast guard arrived and eventually cut us loose.

    We're in Santa Barbara now waiting for the SoCal 300 to start. I could really get used to this warm weather. Do the rest of you guys back home in SF realize some people don't always sail cold weather and 20-30 knot winds? Who knew this was even possible!

    Jim and crew,
    "Junkyard Dog"
    Nicely done! The closest assets are fellow racers.

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