Tom Hills Titan XI, an Andrews 68, is bowing out of Race Week a little early after a horrendous port/starboard collision Wednesday with Decision, Stephen Murrays Andrews 70. The incident occurred as both boats were approaching the top mark during the second weather leg of the second race of the day for PHRF A.
According to witnesses and a crewmember on Titan XI, they were on the starboard layline when Decision, on port, was unable to complete a planned duck when either a running backstay became fouled, or the rudder cavitated. Decision, sailing somewhat faster than normal because of the bear-off, struck Titan XI on its port side, two-thirds of the way aft, cleaving the hull and deck all the way through to the grinders pedestal.
Jim Marshall of Jamestown, R.I. was trimming to leeward on Titan XI when the collision occurred. I was pretty darn sure that they werent going to make it, said Marshall. I watched their bow carefully because it wasnt if they were going to hit us, it was where. I just took two steps forward and their bow came through a foot aft of my leg.
With Decisions bow firmly planted in Titan XI, water began pouring in the hole, which stretched from the topsides to within six inches of the waterline. After some initial confusion, Decision used their engine, at full throttle in reverse, to back out of Titan XI. If they had stayed where they were, we absolutely would have filled with water and sank, said Marshall. Once they pulled out, we jibed onto port and re-set the jib to heel the boat over. Once Titan XI was heeled over, the crew, in what Marshall described as an impressive display of seamanship, began work to stabilize the situation, using buckets and high-capacity bilge pumps to de-water the stricken yacht.
Once the water level inside the boat was at manageable levels, the crew dropped the sails and put gear, bodies, sails, and the boom on the starboard side of the boat to keep the hole out of the water and motored into Key West Harbor.
While Titan XIs Race Week may be over, its crews may not be. The word on the docks on Wednesday night is that Stephen Murray, Decisions owner, offered Tom Hill and his crew the use of the unscathed Decision for the remainder of the weeks races.