Van Liew Survives Hardest Sailing of His Life

After almost a day of being thrashed around the ocean, Brad van Liew recounts the hardest sailing he’s ever encountered:

“I have just been through the worst sailing of my career. Seriously, I was almost ready to stop. The last eighteen hours has been back to back thunderstorms and squalls. It was like a bowling alley of them all night long. I’d have 40 knots from the east, then 40 knots from the west, then no wind at all. It was just constant and there was no way to keep up. Le Pingouin kept getting knocked down over and over. I tried hand steering through it dealing with all the sheets and lines as well, and I couldn’t keep up. I just simply could not change direction fast enough. The seas were coming from all directions and it felt like a washing machine. The storms rolled through 1-2-3 and on and on they kept coming in the pitch black night with no moon. In my exhausted state I was just waiting from something bad to happen, because the entire situation was so hard on me and the boat.

In my scurried state of trying to keep some semblance of order, I was standing at the back of the cockpit looking astern in an effort to inspect the rudders because the boat simply wouldn’t steer responsively (it turns out solely because of the incredibly confused sea state), when it felt like Mike Tyson slugged me directly in the back. Not just anywhere on my backside, but exactly where I had 2 extensive back surgeries many years ago to fix herniated discs and dural sack damage. I crumpled over into the cockpit floor in pain while grabbing a line, to then see that it was a massive flying fish (looked more like a flying trout with attitude – and quite an altitude as he hit me about 10 feet above the waterline). As I gathered my thoughts and stood up again, another one came hurdling at me and hit me on the shoulder. I have a nice bruise to prove it. This entire incident or series of incidents left me in pain and concerned about the boat, but also wishing this was all on tape because it was so unbelievable.  I know this sounds like an April fools scam but the only one getting messed with was me at the hand of God or Neptune or something like that.”

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