Thursday, June 7, 2018

Super Fast Spinnaker Cup

J/111 Mad Men sailing Spinnaker Cup Race J/111 and J/105s Planing Downhill to Monterey!
(Belvedere, CA)- Saturday’s 88.0nm race from San Francisco to Monterey witnessed 44 boats in 6 divisions, dancing out The Gate in heavy overcast, light winds and ample ebb. With a 40-minute delay for the 1st starters, while RC juggled a cavalcade of issues, including attempting to get the Yellow Brick Trackers to all the boats, squaring the line, and sharing the start area with a bundle of halibut fishermen hoping for fresh fish tacos to start their Memorial Day Weekend.

When the 1st start commenced, the smaller boats with the higher ratings led the parade out of the bay and onto the brisk and lumpy Pacific. Early forecasts had insinuated steady winds in the 25+ knot range, so it appeared that the 2018 edition could be a fast one!

For years, the Spinnaker Cup was started on a Friday to give crews ample time to enjoy the Monterey Bay and ease back into reality at a more civilized pace. In order to compress the California Offshore Race Week into a manageable 8-day affair, the Spinnaker Cup was pushed up a day and Saturday starts are the new norm. So, a quick jaunt down is just what the doctor ordered, and to help facilitate that, the tedious ride out the shipping channel to entrance Buoy 8 (Course 2) was discarded for the more direct course 1.

Diners with window seats at the Cliff House and Beach Chalet were provided a bonus visual treat as the fleet hugged the coast around Seal Rocks, and sailed just outside the surf zone all along SF’s Ocean Beach before moving a tad offshore to clear the Montara Mountain dead air zone and setting kites off Half Moon Bay.

Division E quickly became a dogfight with Jeff Thorpe’s J/111 MAD MEN matching jibes and tactics with the Azzura 310 Outsider, the Columbia 32 Six Brothers, and the C&C 30 Don’t Panic, the last 3 mentioned shadowing one another until a split at Pigeon Point where 6 Bros stayed offshore with Outsider and Don’t Panic chasing Velvet Hammer towards the shore seeking the increased pressure created by the Santa Cruz mountain ranges proximity to the shoreline.

The forecast looked great going into the race, with all the models indicating that boats would set spins/ asyms past Mile Rock, gybe into Davenport, and depending on the time of day and cloud conditions, either take another hitch into Half Moon Bay, or go for the outside lane and gybe on the lay line to finish.

For many of the top boats, offshore (8 miles or so) they found very steady winds, slowly building to about 23 knots with a moderate sea state. That made for great spinnaker conditions, with a fair amount of surfing under A2 and A4.  Towards late evening, after a few hours of sun, the wind began to wane, making for a more civilized approach to Monterey.  The wind began to die in earnest as the slower boats approached the finish.

Sailing in PHRF E Division was Jeff Thorpe’s J/111 MAD MEN, enjoying a fast and very challenging race!  In the end, after sailing 88nm in blast reaching/ running conditions, the MAD MEN took the silver in by far the most competitive class in the race and 5th overall in fleet.  Their 9:55:36 elapsed time worked out to an 8.8 kts plus average over the race track!

The duels in PHRF F Class were between a fleet of J/105s and Express 37s.  In the end, the Sergei Podshivalov’s J/105 JAVELIN took the bronze on the podium, just 19 minutes off winning it all!  Amazing for being the first modern asymmetric keelboat designed in 1992- 26 years ago! Classmate Chris Kim’s J/105 VUJA STAR was 4th just over 1:30 minutes behind, and Jim Goldberg’s J/109 JUNKYARD DOG was 5th another 8+ minutes back.  This group of boats covered the 88nm course at a 7.3 kts-plus average.   Thanks for contribution from Erik Simonson at   For more California Offshore Race Week sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.