Catalina 22 Disaster, Right, a Potter would have made it.

Steve Barnes (
Sat, 01 May 1999 17:19:35 -0700

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West Wight Potter Website at URL
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Hey Potter Dudes,

I thought this article was worth sending to y'all. I'm not sure what
the lesson here is, because I don't know why they were out there. When
I see them again and ask them, I'm pretty sure the answer will be, "we
wanted to practice some heavy weather sailing."

Lifeguards save 2 men before boat capsizes

Terry Rodgers

30-Apr-1999 Friday

San Diego lifeguards rescued two men from a disabled sailboat late
Wednesday night just minutes before the craft capsized and was battered
into pieces by heavy surf.

The rescue, which took place in 8-foot seas whipped by 35-knot winds,
occurred around 11 p.m. just west of the Ocean Beach pier.

Four city lifeguards involved in the dangerous rescue were hailed by
peers as heroes yesterday. Each will be nominated for a Medal of Valor,
highest award given by the United States Lifesaving Association, said
lifeguard Lt. Marshall Parks.

The two men who were rescued suffered mild hypothermia in the 60-degree
water but were otherwise unhurt. Both were placed in warm showers at
lifeguard headquarters for 20 minutes to raise their body temperatures.

They were identified as Eddie Kisfauldy, 22, and Ben Phillips, 21, both
Ocean Beach.

"They're real lucky," said lifeguard Bob Albers, the pilot of the rescue
boat that first reached the two men.

"They were both kind of in shock afterwards."

The two friends had gone sailing off Mission Beach on a 22-foot Catalina
sailboat just before sunset when the mast broke as the craft was being
jostled by the heavy surf, Albers said.

The tense situation got worse when a large wave pounded the boat,
both men overboard. They were able to scramble back aboard and
radioed for help.

Albers was alerted to the emergency while at the lifeguard's boating
at Quivera Basin in Mission Bay.

Although the entrance channel to Mission Bay was treacherous due to
head-high waves breaking between the jetties, Albers motored out in a
21-foot rescue boat with his partner, lifeguard Dave Rains.

While the two lifeguards were heading south to find the disabled
another lifeguard, Ed Harris, jumped from the Ocean Beach pier and began
swimming toward the floundering boat.

The three lifeguards reached the drifting boat at the same time and
the two sailors to abandon ship.

"The southerly current was strong and would have pushed them onto the
and rocks," Albers said. "They wouldn't have been able to swim to a
sandy beach."

Both sailors jumped overboard and were assisted to the rescue boat by
lifeguards Harris and Rains, who were carrying rescue buoys and tow

Soon after the two men were put aboard the rescue boat, a massive wave
front of them began to break.

Lifeguard Harris was still in the water and had to swim clear of the
boat, which was about to take a hit from the wave.

Albers, a 15-year-veteran lifeguard, kept the bow of the rescue boat
west so it could slice through oncoming swells. At the moment of impact,
was able to accelerate slightly into the 8-foot-high wall of churning
as it washed over them.

The rescue boat was swamped with water but was otherwise OK.

"I wasn't worried about being capsized," Albers recalled. "I was more
concerned about finding" the lifeguard who was still in the heaving

The same wave that washed over the rescue boat pummeled the sailboat,
capsized and began breaking apart.

"There was nothing left in the water but debris," Albers recalled.

While being jostled under water by the breaking wave, Harris, the
who was still in the water, had a scary moment when he became
entangled in the rigging still attached to pieces of the sailboat.

Meanwhile, a fourth lifeguard, Laine Pepper, jumped from the pier to
in the rescue. Pepper reached the debris, but was unaware that the two
sailors had already been retrieved by the rescue boat.

The two lifeguards in the water were carrying rescue buoys with strobe
lights. Both were eventually picked up by the 21-foot rescue boat and
returned safety to lifeguard headquarters.

Lifeguards generally don't use the department's surf rescue boats after
nightfall, but Alpers said his instincts told him to do otherwise.

"This was one of those judgment calls where you either do it or two
most likely would end up dead," he said.

Lifeguard Chief Chris Brewster praised the four lifeguards for pulling
the difficult and complicated rescue.

"These are highly trained and extremely skilled lifeguards, but no
of training can ensure the raw courage manifest in this rescue," said
Brewster. "They put their lives on the line for the sole purpose of
ensuring that others unknown to them would not perish."


Steve Barnes, now a lurker, temporarily sailing a Capri-16, #74, in San
(former WWP-14 skipper)