Three crewmembers and an umpire struck by lightning during matchracing Gold Cup yesterday 12/10/06

Three boats were struck by lightning during yesterday’s opening day of the 58th matchracing Gold Cup on Hamilton Harbour. Although no one was seriously injured, three crewmembers including Karl Anderson, Mark Ivey, Eric Boothe and umpire David Pelling on Group A’s course were referred to the doctors for check-ups.

Dr Stephen Sherwin commented: “They were treated for diffuse electrical shock. All had a thorough cardiovascular and neurological exam. They suffered from mild superficial burn and muscle spasms. Thankfully, nobody had entry or exit wounds, which could have indicated deep tissue burn injury.”

Describing what happened crewmember Ivey said: “We had just changed boats after the Spithill race and it began to downpour. We went below and were holding out. Then we heard a huge bang and sparks came out of the mast step. I was sitting on the partners and it shot through me and out my feet. I felt real weak and crawled out of the cabin and laid on the cockpit sole for awhile as it was pouring rain.”

Fellow crewmember Boothe is living proof that lightning can strike twice. Apparently was competing in a collegiate regatta in 1999 when lightning blew out the mast step of the FJ dinghy he was sailing. He wasn’t hurt in that incident, but he was a bit woozy today. His ear was next to the mast when the bolt hit. “I kind of had to sit down,” Boothe said. “I was standing on the bow looking aft at the wind and had to take a seat.”

Pelling was holding onto a metal steering wheel when the lightning struck. “I felt a tingling up through my arms,” he said. “It made me jump off the wheel.”

There was also damage to the yacht Peppercorn. Apparently crewmembers saw its masthead windex blow off and a hole put in the bow when the lightning presumably traveled down the forestay and into the water through the hull. Chatting about the incident aboard Peppercorn James Spithill said: “We had quite a surprise today when we were struck by lightning. It blew up the mast step. It smelled a bit like a sauna. I’ve never had that happen.”

Although racing was suspended during the preliminary round robin stages come races were completed. In Group A Sweden’s Björn Hansen and Brian Angel of the US dashed out to 2-0 records, and Group B completed five flights. Frenchman Mathieu Richard and Ian Williams of Great Britain seem assured of advancing to Friday’s Quarterfinal Round. Both skippers went 4-1 in racing with just two flights remaining to complete the group.

Group B should be able to complete its two flights this morning followed by Group A’s final round robins. The quarterfinals are due to take place on Friday, the semifinals on Saturday and the final on Sunday.

Group A Standings
(After 2 of 7 scheduled flights)
1. Brian Angel (USA) King Harbor Match Race, 2-0
(Crew: Eric Boothe, Payson Infelise, David Levy)
T. Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Team, 2-0
(Crew: Martin Angsell, Pontus Meijer, Johan Tempelman)
3. Scott Dickson (NZL) Dickson Racing Team, 1-1
(Crew: Whitlock Batchelor, John Hayes, Mark Strube)
T. Chris Law (GBR) The Outlaws, 1-1
(Crew: Karl Anderson, Mark Ivey, Scott Norris)
T. Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team, 1-1
(Crew: Nils Bjerkas, Robert Skarp, Carl-Johan Uckelstam)
T. James Spithill (AUS) Luna Rossa Challenge, 1-1
(Crew: Magnus Augustson, Torben Grael, Christian Kamp)
7. Sandy Hayes (USA), 0-2
(Crew: Peter Bromby, Kim Hapgood, Cindy Olsen)
T. Jon Singsen (USA), 0-2
(Crew: Ben Bardwell, Kevin Horsfield, Nik Smale)

Group B Standings
(After 5 of 7 scheduled flights)
1. Mathieu Richard (FRA) Saba Sailing Team, 4-1
(Crew: Greg Evrard, Olivier Herledant, Yannick Simon)
T. Ian Williams (GBR) Williams Sail Racing, 4-1
(Crew: Bill Hardesty, Gerry Mitchell, Mark Nichols)
3. Alvaro Marinho (POR), 3-2
(Crew: Diogo Barros, Antonio Fontes, Miguel Nunes)
4. Eric Monnin (SUI) Team Monnin, 3-2
(Crew: Simon Brugger, Fabien Froesch, Alain Marchand, Marc Monnin)
5. Torvar Mirsky (AUS), 2-3
(Crew: Nick Davis, Per Fyrkholm-Arr, Graeme Spence)
T. Blythe Walker (BER), 2-3
(Crew: Adam Barboza, Carola Cooper, Somers Kempe)
7. Paula Lewin (BER), 1-4
(Crew: Diana Mitchell, Lisa Neasham, Leatrice Roman, Peta White)
8. Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN) Mascalzone Latino – Capitalia, 1-4
(Crew: Pierluigi de Felice, Rasmus Kostner, Chresten Plinius)