VIDEO: Good or lucky?

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Even a seasoned pro can be forgiven for a less-than-graceful approach to the dock under tough conditions. And then there’s this guy, who frankly just makes most of us look bad, right before we stand up and applaud.

Uploaded to YouTube by nauticalvideos, the clip unfortunately has little in the way of identifying information, but the scenery looks European, and the ocean is angry. The helmsman surfs down a wave and right through the tight opening in the breakwater. It’s a stunningly beautiful approach in lousy conditions.

There was a lot of debate in the comments section about whether this skipper was skillful or darn lucky. Around the Soundings office, we voted for skill but decided to check with expert boat handler Chris Fertig, who broke the Bermuda Challenge record and is planning to race nonstop around the world by powerboat.

Fertig reviewed the clip and noted the following about the helmsman:

1. He had his crew on deck and outfitted with the appropriate safety and exposure protection to assist and be ready to abandon ship, if required.

2. He correctly positioned the boat offset from the entrance of the harbor and up-swell, which allowed him to catch the subsequent wave and surf it to safety.

3. He kept the stern square to the surf, preventing a broach.

4. He stayed as far to the up-swell side of the harbor entrance as possible to minimize the chances of getting set onto the jetty on the down-swell side.

5. It seems clear he understood that he was going to have only one shot at making the harbor, and when he got the chance he didn’t hesitate and executed perfectly.

In conclusion, Fertig added, “This captain is good and lucky!”