John Sangmeister’s Santa Cruz 70 — OEX had a rudder failure and the boat has been lost. Roy Disney’s Pyewacket came to the rescue and all the crew is safe.

The 68-foot boat, OEX is a Santa Cruz 70, built in 1986 in Santa Cruz, Calif. The team of nine on board is all safe — Skipper John Sangmeister, Captain Ryan Breymaier, Navigator Brendan Busch, Watch Captain Randy Smith, Bowman Erik Berzins, Mast Mat Bryant, Chuck Clay, John Turpin, Greg Weeger.

This from Chairman Tom Trujillo later Monday afternoon:

"Pyewacket reported the position of OEX at the time of the rescue, which at 0300 was at the position 031° 38.652N, 121° 52.644W, and this was reported to the US Coast Guard. We have subsequently learned that OEX has sunk."

This may be the 50th running of the Transpacific Yacht race, but if the first couple of days are any indicator, this may become known as “The Year of the Rudder.”

Of the six boats that have retired from this year’s historic race with 90 entries prior to this incident, four have cited some form of rudder or steering issues.

Long Beach resident Tom Camp’s Santa Cruz 50 Trouble returned home Sunday with rudder issues. Trouble, boat locals may remember during her Allure days, crew on board included locals David Stotler and Jared Gargano and Australian David Price, who sails here often enough to have honorary Long Beach resident status.

Although disappointed, before they hit the dock, they had already booked airline tickets so not to miss any of the island happenings.

Mike Sudo's Macondo retired Saturday around 6:30am citing rudder post issues. They reported to be safe, and making good headway towards home. They posted on their blog, “Macondo now heels hard to starboard and our worlds feel a bit upside down. The potential for catastrophic rudder failure crept from the shadows last night, forcing our crew to make the heavy hearted decision to turn back. To head home. To abandon 2+ years of daydreams and planning.”

The posting continued, “Punch to the gut? Of course. I seem to find never ending parallels in sailing and life and today is no different. Sometimes elements are purely out of your control; however you can control how you react and control the next move. The decision to turn back was to subconsciously strip us all down to the nerves and decide there are more important things than winning or finishing, champagne showers or celebratory social media posts, and it's these realizations we seek when we leave safe harbor in the first damn place.”

Able to put it in prospective, he went on, “These are the reminders that hopefully make us better sailors, better people. We don't do this to win or to conquer nature, we do this to somehow remind ourselves we are nature, that we're still wild, apart of it all and to marvel in its splendor.”

Two of the three Hobie 33s entered, Mayham and Aloha, have retired citing, "Rudder post issues.”

Before the race, Aloha’s Brian Vanderspek told me, “We have a pretty great team this year and we are very excited about it and motivated to win. With my wife Lindsay is due in August so I had to make the hard decision to pull out of the race, but my brother Kyle was quick to replace me.”

Like so many others, preparing for this trek has been a long-term effort: “This has been a three year build up for this race. We purchased the boat out of Corpus Christi Texas in 2017 and have spent the last three years optimizing the boat for offshore racing. One of the biggest helps has been working with Keith Magnussen of Ullman sails to develop a killer suite of sails optimized for this boat and race. We have left no rock unturned in preparation of the boat and crew time on the water. It’s a great feeling knowing we are prepared to the best of our ability.”

Brian Vanderspek is married to Long Beach Port Pilot Bob Blair’s daughter Lindsey. As soon has Blair learned Aloha’s fate, he quickly went into rescue mode. Early Friday morning, Blair texted a photo of his yacht, Happy Days at the fuel dock, fully provisioned with Nick’s burritos and a full crew.

Happy Days reached Alohas position 160 miles offshore of Mission Bay and attached the tow line making 7.5 knots back to Mission Bay Yacht Club. The crew onboard the Happy Days is doing well and so is the Team onboard Aloha.

The first boat in the race to retire was a Cal 40 NALU V, "Difficulties keeping the bilge dry, pumps keeping ahead but the reason for water ingress unknown, returning to port.” Also Saturday, Tim Jones’s Olson 40 Live Wire, Olson 40, retired with mast/rigging issues.

Note: This story was updated to reflect news that OEX had sunk.

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