Sunday, March 15, 2020

Puerto Vallarta Race Update

J/145 Katara sailing offshore
(Puerto Vallarta, Mexico)- There are two J/Teams sailing the 1,200nm San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race this past week in what has become a "drift-fest" for the first half of the race, but building breezes towards the latter half. Mark Surber's J/125 SNOOPY has been doing well, as well as Roger Gatewood's J/145 KATARA.

KATARA's team has been keeping up a very good PV Race blog each day.  Here is their link.

To give you an idea of what life is like on an offshore 46-foot racing boat, here are a few excerpts below for you to enjoy:

Friday, March 6, 2020, 1530
Position:  32 19N 117 9W
Speed:  8.5-9 kts
Distance to go: 986.1 nm
Weather: Sunny & Almost chilly - just gorgeous
Winds: 8-11 kts
Sail Package: Full Main, A1 reaching spinnaker.

And we're off! The start today at 1200 PST was light and uneventful. We fetched the edge of the harbor and before we knew it, we were cracking off just a few degrees and hoisting the new Tweener Code 0. Trent and Daniel muscled it up and Louis did the hoist. We picked up speed there, but it was only an hour before we were seeing the afternoon shift, we expected and were calling for the A1 reaching spinnaker.

Roger appeared to have a great time on the helm for the start and first few hours of the trip (It's his Birthday, btw, for those that done know!).

Trent is driving right now with Roger and Louis trimming the kite. We've already got several of the Green watch (JA, Neil, Daniel, Ron) below for their first rest session so they're ready to take over at 1800 PST this evening.

Very very light sea conditions with the breeze fairly light as well. Our current target for the rest of the afternoon is to try and lift off the coast to ensure we don't get stuck in the dead air region near shore overnight We anticipate a gybe sometime in the middle of the night to play back in towards the coast to play with the sea breeze tomorrow afternoon as that builds.

The boat is clean and dry and everyone is in great spirits so far. Less than 1,000nm to go!

Saturday, March 7, 2020, 1845
Position:  29 1N 116 10.7W
Speed:  5-7 kts
Distance to go: 783.62 nm
Weather: Partly cloudy and chilly
Winds: Variable 280-310 @ 5-9 kts
Sail Package: Full Main, A1 reaching spinnaker, Spinnaker Staysail.

What a gorgeous day on the water for KATARA. While it was mostly cloudy most of the day, and even a bit chilly, we had an awesome day. The weather gave us slightly more pressure than we were anticipating, and we hope we've capitalized on that to get us south as quickly as we can.

All helmsmen and deck teams seem to be having a great time. I've seen wide grins from Louis and Trent specifically. Another big hit with the crew is the bean bag chair we brought alone for the spinnaker trimmers. Instead of avoiding spin trim duty due to standing or cricking your neck it looks to be one of the more popular postings. We've got a bunch of sails stacked on deck as well which have made for a pretty enjoyable sun bed for those off watch.

We've done some minor housekeeping and line management to make sure we stay on top of everything and we've gotten most of the crew several long uninterrupted sleep sessions.

All indications point to Roger having a great time. The report I got was that his birthday at sea was a great one.

The next 36 hours looks less promising. There is an area of high pressure that's being driven by a larger area of low pressure just outside it right on to our race course. As the breeze begins to clock right this evening and in to tomorrow morning we expect to see the velocity die off. We'll be approaching Cedros island sometime in the middle of tonight and will continue to analyze the latest weather files for options after that. Current thinking is that if, as the sun rises, it looks like it's going to be a clear day, we make for the beach and hope to capitalize on any land breeze that develops in the late afternoon. Other than that, I think it'll just be a matter of concentration for our deck teams to make sure we keep her moving along best we can in variable conditions.

In a dramatic divergence from previous races we've had a professional chef pre-prepare all of our meals for the trip and then vacuum seal them. Preparation entails nothing more than a pressure cooker with some water for about 15 minutes to heat them back up. Last night was Beef pot roast, tonight was grilled chicken, rice, and green peas with dinner rolls. Everything has been a huge hit with the team so far. I believe two pastas and a pork meal of some sort are on the remainder of the menu.

Wish us luck in dealing with this light air zone over the next 36-40 hours. We all hope you're having a great weekend so far - I know we all are

Sunday, March 8, 2020, 2000
Position: 27 35N 115 36W
Speed:  5-7 kts
Distance to go: 696.7 nm
Weather: Partly cloudy and chilly
Winds: Variable 345-005 @ 5-9 kts
Sail Package: Full Main, A1 reaching spinnaker, Spinnaker Staysail. Plugging in the Tweener on its tough luff for probably future deployment

Good morning shore friends!

While you were, hopefully, comfortably nestled in bed overnight the watch standers here on Katara were busy. The early evening hours saw pleasant breeze and good conditions as we played our target downwind numbers and tried to get as much south as we possibly good in an attempt to set ourselves up to deal with this area of high pressure currently descending on us. In the middle of the night JA's watch (Neil, Daniel, and Ron) executed a textbook gybe over to pot tack after we watched the wind shift NW to NNW. We are currently off a polar target plan and are now sailing a heading which should see us intercepting the coast by early afternoon in an attempt to capitalize on a potential land breeze this afternoon while there is near 0 wind further offshore due to this High that's sitting over us.

This is one of the driest races any of us can remember. I don't think we've taken a single wave anywhere on the boat. It's chillier than some of us imagined, and Foul Weather gear is still in use for the wind blocking properties

Last night's dinner was a hit: Grilled chicken, green peas, and rice. The daily breakfast burritos seem to be a crew favorite - we just finished feeding everyone a couple a piece. Sausage, egg, and cheese.

JA's watch just came off for some well-deserved rest (that 0200-0600 watch is a tough one) and Roger's team (Sam, Trent, and Louis) are now in charge of the boat for the next 4 hours. Roger is on the helm still looking to be having a great time.

We've sent Trent and Louis to the bow to prepare our Tweener sail for hoist with the anticipation that as this high progresses we will see breeze continue to shift to the right. We've also got a kelp watch set back up as we have seen several clusters come by. The boat is carrying a kelp stick and a flossing line and the first afternoon saw Sam trying to show some of the younger bow guys how they were used. A skill that apparently takes some finesse and practice. I'm sure they'll get it.

If you're the praying type send up a request to help us avoid the worst of the dead zones associated with this high through this afternoon and in to this evening.

Monday, March 9, 2020, 0800
Position: 26 4.4N 114 3.9W
Speed:  7.5-9kt
Distance to go: 568.8 nm
Weather: Partly cloudy and Chilly
Winds: WIND!!!! Glorious, GLORIOUS, WINNNND! Variable 060-080 @ 7-10kts
Sail Package: A1, wait no, Tweener?, Nope, that's not it either. Light Medium Genoa! Yes! That's the one!! Zoom Zoom

Wind. You glorious, GLORIOUS wind. All yesterday afternoon and much of the evening found Katara attempting to claw her way south in 0-2kts of breeze from what seemed like 600 different directions. At least several helmsmen (looking at you, Neil!) did involuntary 720s as the boat rolled around her keel with no control whatsoever.

Never to be outdone JA's overnight watch pushed like hell and managed to answer Roger's team's 3.5nm (in four hours...) with a terribly sad, but still more impressive, 7.4nm. Redoubling their efforts Roger and his watch of Sam, Trent, and Louis came back from behind with much strong numbers on the following watch.

After midnight things improved somewhat and we're now power reaching down the line near 8kts. The forecast is again bleak starting at or near 1100 and lasting again through much of the afternoon and evening.

I've offered exclusive access to the last box of Oreos for whatever team puts up the best standings today. Those have proven quite popular and here's hoping they're willing to fight for them. Peanuts are the only thing aboard which have been rationed and we've hidden the stash to keep Capt. Roger fed and happy for the remainder of the trip.

Just before sunset we picked up some kelp on the rudder and Dan and Neil deployed the Kelp stick with deft hands to clear our issues and streamline the water flow again.

It's still cold. Too cold for the Floridians' taste anyways.

Morning position report shows us first in class. While that's certainly helped morale, we've got a LOT of sailing left to do and we're keeping everyone focused on the prize. We should hit the halfway point mileage wise here later today.

The cabin is still dry and warm and the sea state, even with heel, makes rest cycles pretty pleasant.
For more Puerto Vallarta Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.