Authorities Make ‘Mass Rescue’ of Kayakers After Washington Race Goes Haywire

by Courtney Blackann

A group of kayakers got into some trouble over the weekend during Washington state’s Deception Pass Challenge. What started out as an adventurous race through some rough water ended with a mass rescue. About 20 people when they capsized. The paddlers were caught off guard by high winds.

The course is designed to be challenging, yet it’s not typically life-threatening, officials said. The Coast Guard was alerted around 9:30 in the morning. About 20 of the 75 competitors were caught in rough winds and capsized. Callers told the rescue teams that the paddlers needed help getting back to shore.

The Coast Guard immediately responded. So did two North Whidbey Fire Marine Rescue units and a Skagit County marine unit, King 5 News reports.

“This incident highlights the outstanding interagency teamwork we have here in the greater Puget Sound’s search and rescue system,” said Capt. Patrick Hilbert, the commander of Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound. “It also reinforces the importance of wearing a life jacket and constantly assessing the increased risks posed by the weather and water conditions that are always changing here in the Pacific Northwest.”

The event is in its 15th year. It’s described as an “epic winter paddling and rowing race through the tidal rapids of Deception Pass.”  Participants are faced with rough water, standing waves and a challenging course. On this day, the weather could have been better. Winds were blowing high and the kayakers couldn’t curb it as they raced through the water.

Luckily, however, there were no serious injuries in the incident.

Coast Guard Rescues Kayaker Attempting to Travel from California to Hawaii

In another tale that ends in safety, the Coast Guard rescued a California kayaker. This was after facing a deadly wave.

Cyril Derreumaux wanted to complete a solo trip from California to Hawaii in a kayak. It’s definitely an ambitious goal, albeit a dangerous one. He’s already a Guinness World Record holder and adventurer. However, Derreumaux is also an amateur kayaker. Nevertheless, he was attempting to reach Hawaii in 70 days. He began his journey at the end of May.

But just off the coast of California, the kayaker ran into trouble. The waves were too massive for his kayak. Further, his tracking technology was failing.

“In a few moments, my kayak was positioned almost parallel to the axis of the waves, and I found myself violently tossed from side to side, along with all the equipment that was stored in the cabin,” he wrote. “Attempts to get out to more accurately assess the condition of the sea anchor and to resolve the issue were unsuccessful and resulted in water entering my cabin.”

Derreumaux quickly sent a distress signal and the Coast Guard was on their way.

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kroll explains how even the most experienced mariners can come face to face with trouble.

“Recognizing that the situation was beyond his capabilities and calling for assistance allowed our crews to reach him in time for a successful rescue,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kroll. “This shows that even experienced mariners with proper safety equipment can get into trouble on the ocean, which is why having the right equipment and knowing when and how to use it is so important.”