As our sailors are easing into the windy reach, the windy is easing in to boat parts and doing away with the weakest of links. Boom Vangs, autopilots, wayward halyards, traveler cars, mainsail tears have all been reported. If your parts make it through this phase, well, hopefully, that means they’ll last you the whole trip. We can think that way, anyhow.
Most racers are reporting warmer weather and water now, and the wind starting to clock a little aft. We have seen a juxtaposition of leader boats with the sport boats doing their stuff in the conditions they were made for: Double Espresso and Passages, two Olson 30s, the boat of choice for this race, surfed up from behind to overtake the Capo 30 JouJou and join in the lead with Riff Rider and Crinan II, in elapsed time. Standings with corrected time are much different, and with so much runway left, it is still anyone’s race, well, almost anyone.
Wind is still projected to hold and a southerly surge reprise forecasted for this weekend should land far enough east of the fleet not to be a factor in slowing anyone down. Several days out, tropical low pressure systems off Mexico might disrupt some of the usual tradewind flow, so we’ll be keeping an eye on those weather systems. The dreaded Pacific High has so far been behaving itself, and staying well to the North. Great luck for these 2018 racers.
Day 3 found our racers gearing up for a wild ride on what’s known as “the windy reach.” The back of the fleet crawled out of the southerly surge and the front of the fleet grew with the faster, sportier boats, previously becalmed, closing the gap on the original three leaders in reported 25-30 kt winds. JouJou is still splitting the difference between Riff Rider to the north and Crinan II to the south. It will be interesting to see the effect of latitude. Double Espresso is one of those surfing machines now caught up to the three leaders with Nightmare and Passages very close behind. Rainbow, the sole multihull, is holding his own and Kyntanna is throwing her size around surging to the south. The remainder are roughly clustered together, but still moving at a clip. We have reports of sea sickness, astronaut eating, and only a little carnage so far, a boom vang and a couple of autopilots, not too bad overall. The sailors are settling in to sailing, as the winds continue.
Sunday saw a thinning of sorts. Riff Rider, who went West with very little southing picked up the synoptic breeze first and largely escaped what would become the slow zone. Fast on his stern were JouJou, and Crinan II, who, both a little more south, managed to mostly escape the southerly surge and with over ground speeds from 7 – 11 kts, the three surged ahead of those less fortunate.
Meanwhile, LIBRA, delayed due to autopilot issues, decided to drop out and the sea had it’s way with Mouton Noir and Elizabeth Ann, who both retired to the shores with equipment issues. We are down to 16.
The rest of this sixteen not rocketing in the synoptics, doddled about in that southerly surge, napping, cursing, trading grey poupon, reflecting on strategy, napping again, cursing again, waiting…
As the night fell, mother nature took pity on them and reached her fingers down to tickle the boats, one by one, and poked each in the direction of the finish. The breeze started picking up, as did speed, and boat by boat, the fleet started moving past the surge into solid northwesterlies. Right now it looks like good breeze all the way. Will it hold?
We went from 2.5 to 25 kts of wind, from lumpy seas to a well formed swell. It’s not yet at a great angle but we’re surfing here and there. The barometer has been rising steadily to 1020 now.
Before the night I dropped to two reefs. I’m not steering at all and spend most of my time in the pipe berth. I’ll have to keep an eye on the batteries. It’s cloudy and I may have to use the generator, which in these conditions is going to be difficult. I’m drinking but eating very little; radishes mostly.
The boat seems to be doing fine and the skipper too.
And now TMI again: I was tipped over when using the urinal …
Keeping on trucking!
In the low I had to sail 330 m to make wind, basically a long port tack. I was a little late catching the shift but went back to starboard in light winds. The old .5 spinnaker helped keep speed up but when the wind came back up things went a little wrong. Nothing broke.
I’m now under two reefs and still the 3, mostly pointing straight at point a doing good speed.
I’m still lightly seasick, feeling queezy.
10.9kts? Is that the average over 4 hours?!?
[Philippe carries a large PINK Home Depot bucket aboard for purpose best left unmentioned]
I think I’m out of the hole. I had put the .5 oz spinnaker up (barely so but it was still faster than the 3; where’s your 1 when you need it :-), when the wind came back strong and I didn’t manage too well, with a pole up in the air and the sail dragging in the water. Nothing broke and we’re back to the 3.
Food wise I’ve had a couple slices of pizza yesterday and a few celery sticks. Today I’m not into eating and I’ve had a few radishes and one carrot. And, here comes TMI, I’ve had a bowel movement (I never realized that it evokes dancing so well, and it does engage all your muscles; no relaxing on my pink throne!).
Anyways, what goes in goes out. I’m sure the same holds true for the mind so be nice to each other 🙂
I think I’m to take a nap.
Hello from Double Espresso’s cabin where we serve dollops of cold foamy salty water followed by slatting sails in a lumpy sea.
I think I had a good start. I put a reef midway in the Bay and shook it off a little while after going under the bridge. Then it was two reefs and, following the plan, well past the Farallon Islands, I bore off a little. It’s been hard steering well and I think I’ve been losing ground. We were getting in high tens. I think I saw 4 boats ahead of me. They kept on more westerly course.
I’m now limping as the sails can barely hold the wind for a couple seconds before a roller comes in and shakes it out.
The fast race was not to be. I’ll keep on trucking … I’m lying in the forepeak borderline sea sick. And, yes, I can’t shake a feeling of frustration.
A couple of things happened: the second reef line came off the boom (saw that before I pulled it through completely) and a bowline came off on the jib clew. And the tiller wand is screaming in pain, making it really hard to relax.
The tracker somehow lost its GPS fix (so did the VHF btw) but that’s fixed and you can probably see my 3kts of speed, if that.
What’s on the bright side?
All photos on this post from SSS members Christine and Jonathan.
More to follow soon on http://norcalsailing.com
Mike Cunningham on Jacqueline
Philippe Jamotte on Double Espresso
Greg Saramite on Libra
John Woodworth on Owl
Greg Ashby on Nightmare
Carliane on Kyntanna
Chris Case on FUGU
Above: FUGU, Charlie Casey on Riff Rider, and Kyntanna
Below at the start line:
Bill Meanley on Dolfin, Lee Johnson on Morning Star and Mike Cunningham on Jacqueline
00:15 Sunday 6/24 – So it looks like the southerly surge that weather gurus were worried about has hit the fleet, with tracking report speeds dropping to 1kt and less. In the weather briefing provided by Skip Allan, at the skippers meeting, our fearless 19 were warned of this impending doom. Go west, he said. Here’s a quick why. So there is a Pacific high way offshore. There is a lower pressure system sitting over the central valley of California. Beyond the low pressure system are the Sierra Mountains. In the upper atmosphere, air can get pushed towards these mountains and some can’t get over them, it cools off, then wants to sink. As a result of this sinking air, a north/south troph associated with the low pressure system (actually, sitting between the low pressure system and the Pacific High) is pushed back westward off the coast. Exactly when this would happen, and exactly how far west was unclear. Light southerly wind lies to the east of the troph, light northerly winds occur to the west, and no winds in the middle. Guess where our buglighters are. 🙁 The no winds in the middle could last for a couple of days, so we’ll see. Stay tuned.
At this time Libra is still in port, and Mouton Noir is returning to shore, reportedly possibly due to some equipment issues. There may be additional news from check ins, we’ll post any updates. Have a good night, and know the racers will likely at least have a peaceful night too, if they relax and enjoy the calm. It is lovely out there when it is calm.