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Fastnet Redux because that is how they feel when a boat is trying to combat them. Members of the daily press who wrote about the Fastnet storm described boats falling off the sides of these waves, implying that boats actually went airborne, landing kerplunk in the troughs. That was certainly an exaggeration on the part of landlocked writers who were doing their best to deliver the full dramatic treatment they thought the subject deserved. But those writers were on the right track. What happened was this: As yachts that were moving along broadside to these waves were drawn up their sides, they would begin to lose buoyancy on the down (lee) side. This would increase their angle of heel. The

Photo by Rachael Talibart.

higher they rose on the side of the wave, the steeper it would become and the more they would heel. Further, the wind speed was about twenty knots higher on the top of the wave than on the bottom. So here a yacht would be, already heeling at a hellish angle, getting slammed by an extra twenty knots of wind when she needed it least. If the wave happened to be breaking on top, she would get rocked by tons of water in addition. Smacko! It was such a situation that knocked two Kialoa crewmen off the rail toward the middle of the boat where they fetched up on their lifelines with a jerk, and then bounced back to land on Jim Kilroy’s back. Kilroy had seen the cresting sea coming and braced himself on a winch. The two careening bodies crushed him against it, ribs first. He went grudgingly below in pain with two broken ribs, and a protruding piece of dislocated cartilage that would be his permanent souvenir of the race. The conditions put the mast tips of several fifty-footers in the water. Many forty-footers put their mast tips in the water for long counts while everything from anchors to frying pans and people were uprooted and f lung about down below. And vessels under forty feet caught the most hell. Some of them rolled over completely, three hundred sixty degrees: mast tip in the water, mast tip pointing at the bottom, mast and rigging carried

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