“It’s going to be Champagne Sailing…” is a phrase that is meant to bring to mind ‘optimal’ sailing conditions. In the case of the San Diego Yacht Club's Puerto Vallarta race, it would bring to mind a full moon lighting the seas at night, fresh winds of 12-15 kts aft of the beam, and long ocean swells just large enough to lift the transom and give your boat a little invisible push, followed by a subtle roar of your bow wave peeling past the hull. That was the case for Thursday starters, but as roll call 0600 reports trickled in Saturday morning, it was apparent that the champagne was running low.
Stark Raving Mad VII reported a (non life-threatening) injury Saturday morning and are retiring from the race to head to Ensenada. More information when available.
A few highlights from the comments column of race reports:
All good but, super unstable out here... in the last hour we have seen 2-13 knots of breeze from anywhere between 225-275.
Cold front approaching, slow night with light and variable wind. All good.
Wind 286 @ 8.7 kts, sea 6-8', cloud cover 90%. Clouds obscured a beautiful moon. All souls well after a busy night.
Wind 250 @ 6-12kn with lulls to 3kn, sea 3’-4’ swell, 40% cloud cover, bar N/A 3. Another boat abeam of us, probably 2 miles to W. Uneventful night with relatively stable wind conditions, some gusts up to 14kn.
Wind 240 @ 13 kts, Sea 6’, 30% cloud cover, 3018 mb. Sails squared away and enjoyed a fine day of sailing in perfect conditions. Able to hit our highest speed of the voyage @ 11.9 kts, occasionally surfing when all just right. Crew enjoyed crab fried rice with warmed plums in wine reduction sauce and balsamic glaze (for plate presentation), paired nicely with a Barbera d' Asti.
[On Friday afternoon] We had sunshine, cool breeze and plain sailing -- with the white sails, actually shades of grey since they are of high tech fabrics. We went from the #1 jib, to jib top (reaching jib) to A0 (reaching semi-spinnaker) as the wind gradually went into the west, allowing use to sail generally directly south. This afternoon's sail has been remarkably true to the grib files (predicted breeze). It will not remain so.
Within two hours of the start we passed close to leeward of North Coronado Island with its steep somber tombstone sides. A cell tower on the peak of South Coronado Island would have allowed a text or two, but we were too busy even with the plain sailing as the rest of our fleet, Hana Ho, Horizon and Triumph were close at hand.
From Mikey ‘Polish’: ‘This is the feeding'est yacht I have ever been on.’ -- After a delish dinner of grilled chicken chimichurri w/ veggies. Thanks Jenny!”
More from Lucky Duck at http://luckyducksc52.blogspot.com.
Thursday night was a wild one for Cabernet Sky. Charles Buckner reported:
“So where was I? Oh yeah, I signed off having to go down and prep the duo of soups for our dinner. Just as the soups were coming to a simmer, while slicing the French bread to accompany it, all Hell broke loose.
Cabernet Sky was suddenly de-powered, nearly coming to a stop if not for the waves pushing us now slowly forward. Jill Wong stuck her head in the companionway hatch and yelled ‘Charles, we need help!’ That much I already knew, but just what the problem was not yet known.
I came up on deck and saw two of the crew moving quickly forward toward the bow, 3 others looking over the port side into the water. As I looked up that issue was clear, the A3 was missing! I looked over the life lines and saw the sail stretched along the side and drifting underneath the boat. Orders were given to the helmsman (Rick Newsom) to hold the course steady, and I moved quickly to join the crew at the bow to try and get the A3 sail back onboard. Being water filled and stuck around the bottom appendages, it was a struggle.
Eventually we got the sail on deck, gathered up and secured the mess along the port rail. We then deployed the jib and continued sailing. It seemed to me that the world was now moving in slow motion, as I considered the consequences in terms of the race.
The crew went back to their stations, I went below to check on and finish prepping our meal. We ate in silence, contemplating the full moon and other thoughts not shared.”
Between rain squalls, the fine tuned sailing teams leaving Saturday aren’t so much concerned with the sunshine as much as the wind direction and velocity. West of south, and as much as possible are the answers to those ‘wants’. Unfortunately, the quickest boats in the fleet are going to have to press through some unstable southerly winds as the anticipated arm of a low pressure swings through southern California. By tonight, weather models show the boats reconnecting with the regularly scheduled westerly trade wind patterns.
Leaving the dock is often a sigh of relief for teams preparing for an offshore adventure. In early February, the Pac52 Class invited west coast TP52s to join the SCYA Midwinters, bringing together nine 52’ boats in a buoy racing match up where Land Rover BAR’s Gladiator took the victory. During the regatta, Frank Slootman’s Invisible Hand had to retire early on due to the part that holds the holds headstay to the mast was broken, and it was determined that it would affect the rest of the same-build models including Tom Holthus’ BadPak, creating a mad scramble to replace the part in time for the PV Race.
“For the BadPak team a good part of the battle was just making it to the starting line. During Midwinters, our sister ship, the Invisible Hand, had the part the holds the headstay to the mast break. After an inspection, we were by told by the mast builder that we must replace the part prior to any further sailing. The mast came from New Zealand but we were told the new custom made part would be machined in Rhode Island so it would be received in time for the start of the PV race. One week ago we were updated that the Rhode Island machinist was having issues making the aluminum part and it was now being made in Cape Town, South Africa. I thought there would be small chance that the part would get built in time, fly around the world, clear customs, and then fit the exact specifications that were needed. We received the part late Thursday. The team put the mast back on the boat yesterday morning and we did a test sail with no issues. I am amazed it happened but it would not have without the persistent efforts of our boat captain, Matt Smith, who made it happen.”
BadPak will start at 1210 on Saturday with two other 52s, Patches and Vincitore, the Mills 68 Prospector, and Manouch Moshayedi’s Rio100. Additional starts include the Sled class as 1200, and the multihull class starting at 1220, featuringHL Enloe’s Mighty Merloe and their attempt at a new course record.
Prospector is one of the few boats in the Saturday fleet that is new to the Puerto Vallarta race, spending the year joining the west coast racing circuit form their home base in Shelter Island, NY.
The Prospector preview of the Puerto Vallarta Race:
“Continuing Prospector’s year of Pacific domination, the team is gearing up for the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race, a 1,000nm run down the Mexican coast. Given the current forecast, navigator Larry Landry has placed the over/under at a 3.5 day race, so the team is aiming for tacos and tequila somewhere between March 6 and 7.
Still a little early to be certain but, it looks like we will start in a 10-12kt westerly that will shift right to NW and build to 15-20kts. Temps in low 60's during the day and dropping to low 50s at night. As we move down the track winds will hold at NW 15-20 and temps will climb to high 60s. From Cabo to PV winds will shift to N and get light, 5-10kts and them shift back to NW at 15kts ish and temps will climb to 70-80. Latest routing suggest 3.5 day race.”