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A red dot bobbing in the ocean off Diamond Head caught the attention of the boat crew looking for the red buoy that would mark the end of their 15-day Transpac sail from Los Angeles to Honolulu. Instead, it was the red shirt of a man stranded at sea. He had been clinging to his kayak and hope for four hours by the time the boat approached.
When the crew realized he was in trouble, they lowered the sails, started the motor and executed the “man overboard” rescue that all racers must master before they go to sea. The man they hauled aboard was no novice. Guy Wilding is kayak coach of the Sprint National Team aiming to qualify for the 2012 Olympics. He paddles daily in his 18-foot kayak. But this day his paddle broke, he was dumped into the ocean and unable to get back in the kayak. The waves were pushing him out to sea but the wind kept him in place. Even after he spotted the approaching sail, he wasn’t sure the boat would see him in the ocean swells.
After the rescue, the yacht continued to the finish line and traditional welcome at the Waikiki Yacht Club in Honolulu. But the cheers that greet each finisher were especially sincere from Wilding’s wife and daughter. The Coast Guard had notified him that he would be arriving in a different boat than the one he paddled out. The yacht bringing Wilding safely home is named Second Chance – and its owners made the crossing as a move to Hawaii, where they will be new residents of Honolulu.
I just love happy endings, don’t you?This story is spreading through Transpac participants by word of mouth and has been mentioned on local television. I got the details from the official Transpac media release at transpacrace.com.