Captain Donald Lawson, a professional sailor from Baltimore, is overdue in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico and the Mexican Coast Guard is actively searching for him. He has not been heard from since July 12 and it is believed he may not have engine power or an operational wind generator.
Lawson left Acapulco on July 5, bound for the Panama Canal and ultimately Baltimore, as he gears up to make a single-handed world record attempt for circumnavigation on a trimaran this fall. His wife, Jacqueline, tells Bay Bulletin she last received a text from Lawson on July 12, 2023.
He first communicated on July 9 that he was without engine power, relying solely on a wind generator. According to Jacqueline, he lost his wind generator due to a storm on July 12.
His last known position was detected July 13 at 1324 GMT (1:24 p.m.), updated through the Predict Wind App at 12°13.475’N, 099°19.735’W.
The US Coast Guard has issued a AMVER report (Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System) to alert vessels within a 300-nautical mile radius of Lawson’s last known position.
Anyone with information should contact the US Coast Guard National Command Center at 202-372-2100.
Lawson is aboard the 60-foot Ocean Racing Multihull Association-class trimaran Defiant (formerly named Grouparama 2). The boat set multiple records before Lawson acquired it, including a speed record for the 2017 Transpac Race between California and Hawaii, and it also acted as a training platform for the America’s Cup.
Lawson was repositioning the boat from Mexico, where it underwent repairs, to Baltimore via the Panama Canal in order to prepare for his world record attempt, set tentatively for the fall.
Bay Bulletin last spoke with Donald Lawson at the Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show. At the time he was anxious to bring his boat to Maryland where he could have it nearby to make final tweaks.
Lawson would be the first American to attempt a single-handed trimaran record without stopping (only five sailors worldwide have attempted it). He and his wife launched the Dark Seas Project, in part, to bring visibility to African Americans in the sport of sailing. Lawson serves as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee chair for US Sailing.
He has attracted sponsors like T-Mobile and the waterfront development group Baltimore Peninsula. For a boat of Defiant’s size, he would need to complete the circumnavigation in 74 days.
Bay Bulletin is in close touch with the Lawson family. We will continue to update this story.
-Meg Walburn Viviano