Paddler Wave Vidmar's bid for longest solo-kayak crossing sank Christmas Day
Seasoned sea kayaker Wave Vidmar's epic California to Hawaii paddle — in a Cowichan-made kayak — came to a soggy end Christmas Day.
Vidmar — who spoke to the News Leader Pictorial in Chemainus last summer while preparing for his bid to make history's longest solo-kayak crossing — didn't respond to an interview request from the News Leader Pictorial in the wake of the failure.
However, Nick Horscroft of Seward Kayaks — the Chemainus firm that custom-built Vidmar's 22-foot, double Passat G-3 — and reporter Tom Sims of the International Herald Tribune, stitched together what happened to the failed 3,100-mile ocean odyssey.
Horscroft's press statement relates Vidmar's account of his 2012 Seaward Pacific Expedition "albeit with an ending we didn't foresee."
At 3:50 p.m. on Dec. 24, after months of testing and preparation, Vidmar launched his 125-pound Kevlar/carbon fibre Passat G3 from Bodega Bay, California to begin his epic journey, explains Horscroft.
But the weather quickly turned. After battling challenging conditions for 15 hours, with waves breaking over his head, the kayak began taking on water and was being pushed steadily northeast by the current, Horscroft says.
"Wave made the difficult, but ultimately correct decision, and decided to return to shore to regroup. At 6:45 p.m. he summoned help by activating his rescue transponder."
By about 9 p.m. Christmas Day, Wave Vidmar was met by the Bodega Bay Coast Guard.
"They received Mr. Vidmar on board and towed the kayak behind their vessel," says Horscroft, relieved the veteran paddler was saved.
"As they neared shore the kayak was submerged by a large wave and lost."
Likewise, Sims used Vidmar's Facebook account indicating "after much delay, he had discreetly started his voyage on Dec. 24, only to make an emergency call some 24 hours later for a rescue after storms began flooding his kayak."
"U.S. Coast Guard spokesman, Lt. Mark Leahey, wouldn't name names, but confirmed the Coast Guard had rescued a sleep-deprived, Hawaii-bound kayaker on Christmas evening some 15 nautical miles off Bodega Bay.
"That's the town north of San Francisco that film buffs will remember as the setting of Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 film The Birds," notes Sims.
"Mr. Vidmar said the $10,000 kayak, along with all its supplies, sank as it was towed back to shore."
Still, Sims says Vidmar told him via phone he still planned to make the journey in the spring or summer — minus the help of sponsor, Seaward Kayaks.
Horscroft declined to comment further.
"We are obviously disappointed his voyage ended prematurely, but Seaward is relieved Wave was recovered safely."