Wednesday, March 14, 2018

J/125s Crush Puerto Vallarta Race

J/125 sailing Puerto Vallarta race (San Diego, CA)- For the first roll call of the 2018 Vallarta Race, it was clear that Peter Isler’s weather briefing the morning before had been spot on. “You’re going to have a banner evening with full moon and full breeze…” he advised.

At Peter Isler’s very detailed pre-start weather briefing for the Friday starters (Division 6, 5, and 4) Peter mentioned the Friday starters drew the proverbial “Short Straw” – alluding to the less favorable forecast for boats leaving Friday. But, observations from the start line showed full sun, winds 10-12 kts from 230ish degrees. The velocity will be lighter Friday night, but sailors are expected to avoid the impact of a low-pressure system filtering down the west coast.

“I’m feeling very excited. It’s been awhile since I’ve been offshore, so I’m really looking forward to getting out under the stars and having some nice quiet sailing with my friends. I’m lucky enough to be sailing with my dad, John, who is navigating. It sounds like it’s going to be a little light, which simply means we get to enjoy the ocean for that much longer I guess,” commented Erik Shampain who is sailing on Viggo Torbensen’s J/125 TIMESHAVER.

And, although the forecast had diminished in severity for Saturday, the velocity will be up and the direction will be down…or rather more southerly. Saturday starters are expected to be beating for most of their first day. The winds will back and become more southwesterly as they progress down the coast and into the evening.

J/125 sailing offshore SoCalMark Surber’s J/125 DERIVATIVE issued this report on Friday, March 3rd, 1330 hrs:
“We are enjoying a beautiful day, 70 degrees, sun, blue water and winds slowly going right to a Westerly... not always this nice, so pretty happy here!

Friday's start was typical... aggressive and leading out. Four boats in our class (Timeshaver, our J/125 sistership; Fast Exit, a beautifully redone Andrews 40; and Fractions a turbo 1D35), all got away clean and picked our way out the harbor towards the Coronado Islands. We and Fast Exit took the highest line with the others a bit lower. We were the first to reach the islands and elected to go between North and Middle Coronado Island. Fast Exit and TS to the left of Middle Island. They snuck through nicely and came out abeam and to leeward. As the inshore route was forecast to be light, we and Fast Exit stuck to our plan of getting ~20-25 miles West of Todos Santos. Timeshaver went a bit lower and in the end paid off as they came out ahead of us this AM. They are currently off our Starboard bow and offshore from us (probably 6-8 miles closer to the finish). We are positioning ourselves to line up close to Cedros to cut distance off the easterly turn and perhaps gain a few back. Long ways to go. We shall see...

Everyone is doing well, well-fed (beef burgundy for last night dinner, fresh roll and frozen chocolate truffles for dessert. Today's breakfast was chorizo, egg and cheese burritos. Tonight's menu includes cage-free pork and wild rice with devils glazed chocolate brownie surprise. Not bad for a one-pot stove (thanks to Ian and Rob for putting these meals together!).

Everyone says hi and is setting up for another long-night battle. Hopefully, no more rain!”

Saturday Update
“It’s going to be Champagne Sailing…” a phrase meant to bring to mind ‘optimal’ sailing conditions. In the case of the 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.

Between rain squalls, the fine tuned sailing teams leaving Saturday were not 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  pressure swings through southern California.  By Saturday night, weather models show the boats reconnecting with the regularly scheduled westerly trade wind patterns.

Sunday, March 4- 1300 hrs- J/125 DERIVATIVE update
“Mostly sunny, 18-22 kts wind good rollers and back sitting in first.  Good times, but still a long way to go!

As hoped last night, the inshore passage at Turtle Bay paid off and we gained massively, retaking first from our sistership and catching the quicker boats ahead. Good routing was part to blame, having solid breeze and waves always helps! Lots of high teen boat speeds and many 20s. The boat is a washing machine, but no one gives a crap when we're ripping! Yee haw!

Next tactical decision is Mag Bay. That ETA is about 1 AM tonight. That said, we are a little perplexed where our competition is as their YB Tracking system is apparently on the fritz. Suuure it is. That said, we snuck a  private antennae on their mast before leaving the dock and the jokes on them! (OK. Just kidding...) While we are on a long distance race, this is still buoy racing. Know where your competition is, stay in the pressure and stay between your competition and the finish. I think we know clearly how to do two of three, but will for now keep it a secret which we are less confident. Time will again tell.

Dinner: Ian is currently icing his elbow on dinner. Not sure why, but it is thawing quicker with his generosity. He's OK, but I think the wait to beer-thirty at the finish got a little more real.

Just hit another 21 kts boat speed. Hard to type on spin cycle... gotta run and get me some of that!”

Monday update- March 5- 1620 hrs
“Here I sat, tired and dirty, hoping like hell that we didn't screw the pooch - but then...

Touching back on yesterday, very fast, very wet, very good. Still in first! As mentioned the Saturday night Cedros "corner cut" paid big time and set us up for an epic day of planing in close quarters with Timeshaver. Before getting to that... Fun breeze (mostly 18-22 kts, with a few 25 knot puffs late in the evening). While our goal is to always stay straight and maintain solid average speeds and prolong wave rides, the occasional (ahem, Pike) stray occurs and large speeds are reached. Pike was the day's master with 23 knots, I was in a solid 5th with a few 21s. Other than that, lots of 20s and sustained 18-19 knot runs each a minute or so at a shot. Great surf, right direction, crap-load of water (a little down below... maybe all of it), and fun breeze. Good times! Oh! I failed to mention the huge moon! Wow! Doing 20 knots while surfing across moon sparkled ocean is spectacular. It's why we do these events!

Back to the point, Timeshaver did a great job reeling us in, and after several hours of hauling ass and a few jibes, we were able to pull back away. We ultimately separated about 1 this AM (they stayed on an in-shore path, we headed out). Fun playing with you guys!

In the middle of this goings-on, Ian made another stellar meal. Jambalaya, and jumbalaya. As this was a pot full of food and paper bowls, and flat out blasting off waves, there was zero need for sides. Only time for a quick shovel. Another solid effort!

So what has happened since then? As mentioned, we split with Timeshaver. All our forecast models said light inside today and that we need to go wide and far past Cabo to miss the huge wind shadow.  All according to plan until today's new weather arrived... a bit late as we had already made our bed. That said, while we had zero second guessing (OK. Maybe a little), it was entirely satisfying to just now have Rio100 go blasting by a quarter mile to weather. If they're doing what we are doing, my confidence just went way up. Hope we aren't both idiots. Tomorrow will tell the story. Did our competition, who appear to be heading for a tight turn at Cabo do better? Or did our path, much longer sail, much further South, pay. We will know at roll-call. Please send us good vibes!”

Well, all good things must come to pass.  In the end, it was the “little guys” against the “big guys” in this year’s PV race.

Incredibly, the J/125s proved, yet again, why they are so notoriously fast offshore against the best the world has to offer.  Viggo Torbensens’s TIMESHAVER won the bruising battle between the top two J/125s in their final approach to the finish line off Punta Mita, taking 1st in Division 6 and 2nd overall!  Taking 2nd in class and 5th in fleet against the world’s best offshore SoCal sailors was Mark Surber’s DERIVATIVE!

More news later on this incredibly epic battle for class supremacy and overall offshore domination by these J/125 grand prix crews!  Congratulations to both teams for an amazing performance!  Sailing photo credits- Bronny Daniels/ JOY SAILING-
For more Puerto Vallarta Race sailing and YB Tracking information Add to Flipboard Magazine.