UPDATE: PNW sailors rescued after capsize in Caribbean 600 race

Just after 8 p.m. on February 19th, the Paul Bieker-designed catamaran Fujin, which hails from Seattle and had an experienced local crew aboard, capsized near the island of Saba during the RORC Caribbean 600 race. All eight crewmembers have been rescued and are safe.

Here’s an interview with Fujin owner Greg Slyngstad courtesy of Louay Habib:

And here’s navigator Brad Baker’s report after arriving home in Seattle:

I’m sure many if not most the readers already know, but Fujin did not finish the RORC Caribbean 600. At about the 150 mile mark we capsized. Here is a brief description of my perception of the race and events during and after the capsize.

The morning of the race we did final arrangements and prep. The forecast was for stronger winds 25-30 with gusts to 40 and bigger seas. Prep included a trip to the marine store, a safety meeting (turned out this was key) and lots of various little projects before pushing off.  The race required that we motor by a safety inspection boat with all crew present on deck and wearing their personal safety gear (lifejacket, harness, tether, etc.)

The conditions at the start were 20 knots average wind speed into the upper 20s with higher gusts. The sea state was pretty aggressive with the bigger waves easily reaching 4 meters. We started on port tack near the port end of the line. We had a clean start and the race was on.  After a short beat around the east end of Antigua, we bore off onto a beam reach. Conditions strengthened to a 25 knot average and we did see winds as high as 39.5 knots in a squall on that first 35 mile reach to the turning mark. Top boats speed was 31+ knots. We turned the corner and were on a 49 mile run to the next island. Wind speed hung in the mid to upper 20s with gusts into the lower 30s. Things remained sporty! Read More…

Here’s a quick summary from the RORC Caribbean 600:

Greg Slyngstad’s American Bieker 53 multihull Fujin has capsized during the RORC Caribbean 600. All eight crew are safe.

Stephen Cucchiaro’s Gunboat 60 Flow stood by until Dutch/ French authorities organized a rescue vessel. Preparations are now underway to transfer all crew to the safety of Port Saba.

RORC Race Manager Chris Stone issued a statement on behalf of the race organisers, The Royal Ocean Racing Club:

“On Monday 19th February at 20:20 AST, Fujin capsized close to Saba Island and the eight-man crew were observed standing on the up-turned hull. All of the crew are now safe. Stephen Cucchiaro’s Gunboat 60 Flow stood by while rescue agencies co-ordinated the rescue efforts.
Jens Kellinhusen’s German Ker 56 Varuna altered course to assist, but has now continued racing. The Coastguard at Fort De France Martinique has been co-ordinating the rescue.”

The highly experienced crew on Fujin from Seattle, Washington, USA include the skipper Greg Slyngstad, the boat’s designer, Paul Bieker and Olympic Gold medallist Jonathan McKee.

Fujin’s Crew: Greg Slyngstad, Bradley Baker, Peter F Johnston, Paul Bieker, Gina Borza, Fritz Lanzinger, Michael Leslie, Jonathan McKee.

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