CYC Midwinters: Bring On The Breeze!
"Mid Winter racing is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are gonna get"
Skipper of SS Jenny
Okay, maybe it didn't really go down that way, but Forrest would have acknowledged mid winters
sailing as a crapshoot on average and forecasting can be, well, less of a science and more of a Ouija Board guestimate as to what may transpire. That being said, The Corinthian Yacht Club of Belvedere's Mid Winters weekend of fun did not live down to the official weather prognosticators drab variable winds, and a roll around Angel Island was not in the cards .
Going on the hunch that the light northerlies would give way to a more substantial westerlies, the RC raised the postponement flag prior to the 11:55 1st gun and let it ride. And ride it did. The wind filled with a mid spring like blast from outside the Gate and filled in nicely across the course allowing the RC time to square things up to the freshening breeze with a Yellow Bluff weather mark and a Knox leeward rounding. While the start was delayed the flood in the start area began to transition to the early phases of ebb and the ever changing strategy of favorable current vs wind strength played into the tacticians minds. many choosing a more direct line and others swinging wide seeking more favorable wind direction on the downhill runs.
The crew of the J-120 Peregrine offer a nice report on their weekend and some insight onto their decision making and what worked for them! Thanks guys!
"The Saturday light wind predictions were off and a summer like wind line filled in from the Gate and across the race course with breeze showing 14-16 for our start. We opted for our class genny, which is about 130%. John Verdoia, our tactician for the weekend called for a committee boat start so we had the freedom to tack quickly to get out of the flood. We hit the line at the gun with good speed at the committee boat, in front and tacked after several boat lengths. Much of the fleet was further down the line and that cost them traveling the extra distance for relief. We sailed to the Marin shore, keeping a loose cover on Encore and the J-111. When it seemed we had way over stood the weather mark, we tacked, and through the puffs, lulls and persistent stbd tack header, we approached the weather mark only over standing by a boat length or two and rounded it going about 9 kts. Kite went up and we reached out into the flood with good speed and watched the J-111 blow over us to the south by a couple boat lengths and Encore in our wake, dropping behind. We over stood our gybe angle a little as the crew stripped the 130% off the deck and gybed poorly, resulting in a wrapped that required the kite to be lowered a few feet to clear. The hard part is grinding the halyard back up while the kite is fully loaded. During this Encore creeped up as we lost seconds.
We rounded Knox half a boat length behind the J-111 and did clearing tacks and covered the fleet to the Marin shore and did another lap.
Encore closed enough on us during our first down wind leg to finish close behind us boat for boat, which corrected on us by about half a minute. They sailed a great race as did the J-111, who crossed the line just behind us by feet as we shot the finish at the favored pin. This Saturday finish claimed the Rob Cup race for Encore.
Sunday brought 20 plus of northerly. No questions that it was the class #3. We adjusted the rig tension for the breeze and braced ourselves for the unusual conditions and the possible surprises. RC provided us a reaching start off the Corinthian club house. We reached into the pin at the outside of the line on starboard and hit the line about 5 seconds after the gun with the J-111 in front of us and we both gybed to port and set, reaching to the south east into better breeze to Blackaller, our first mark. The balance of the fleet stayed to the north to avoid the flood. We beat the fleet to the end of Belvedere after gybing for with the J-111. Other than a brief attack on our breeze by Quiver, the N/M 35, we had clear wind and opened the distance on the fleet behind and to weather of us as we watched the J-111 accelerate ahead of us, enjoying their favored conditions. The wind was very puffy and shifty throughout the leg making it a lot of fun and keeping the trimmer busy. We crabbed across the Bay in the flood but there was lots of building ebb as we approached Blackaller . We came in, on starboard and did a perfect gybe take down.
The weather leg in cross current is not our typical conditions so we had to rethink our lay lines. We tacked on the first shift and sailed on starboard for a while to get out of any lee of Angle Island and then tacked back to port. Much of the fleet behind did not do this. Our weather mark was Harding Rock and we tacked early, anticipating the lee bow of the flood but not early enough and we rounded the mark after beam reaching for a painful 30 seconds. We had closed most of the J-111’s lead at this point but with the kites up again, the 111 sprinted ahead again. One more lap then the final beat to Elephant Rock in shifty, puffy conditions, requiring changing gears quickly with great crew work. We set at Elephant Rock and beam reached to the finish, with the J-111 seconds in front of us and the balance of the fleet several minutes behind.
Our speed was good through the CYC series and I attribute much of it to the rig tune and the crewing. Boat is well prepared and everything works. Our Quantum sails for this series were from 2011 and have seen a lot of racing since new, but they still look very good, especially the 130% jib.
Tactician was John Verdoia, Main Alex Kent, Jib Kurt Hemmingsen, Pit EJ Rowland, Sewer Kristen McCulloch, Spin trim Casey Grey, Mast Michael Thorton, Mid Bow Victor Pitch, Bow Wilson Willkom. All excellent sailors and an pleasure to drive for.
Of note at the CYC Midwinters and other events the burgeoning sportboat divisions which continue to grow and prosper. With more designers seeking the high performance, low operation equation, the fleets continue to expand. On this weekend 3 of the most recent inductees to the SF Bay sportboat fleet, The J88, The Soto 30' and the C&C 30' engaged with more established 30' sportboats in the Melges 30, J-90, and a Synergy 1000 for some hooting and hollering in conditions one would expect to see much later in the season.
The 8 boat fleet of handicappers with Assy's and Sprits is "a good barometer of a positive move in the industry," says Patrick Whitmarsh from Quantum Sails, "We are seeing a nice influx of new owners and sailors, many coming from the tech industry that are inspired by the ease of operation and intense performance one finds with these boats. When surround by a few well seasoned sailors, they can jump in and have a great time, and even be very competitive."
The Soto 30' Gentoo represents another entry to the ultra hot Sportboat class. On board Saturday are Dan Morris and Dave Liebenberg,
Jenn Virskus provides a very nice report on the weekend featuring some details of Quantum boats:
C&C 30 Makes San Francisco Debut at Corinthian Midwinters
By Jenn Virškus for Quantum Sail Design Group
Javelin, the West Coast’s first C&C 30, takes a bullet for the sportboat class in the final race of the CYC Midwinters to finish the regatta in 2nd place.
The San Francisco Bay’s first C&C 30 made its racing debut in the Corinthian Yacht Club Midwinters held January 17¬–18 and February 21–22. In its first race, with Sail California’s Patrick Nolan driving and Quantum’s Jeff Thorpe doing tactics, Javelin finished third in corrected time to Paul Recktenwald’s J/88 Lazy Dawg and David Rasmussen’s Synergy 1000 Sapphire in the sportboat class.
Fast-forward to this weekend, and Javelin, driven by Quantum’s Patrick Whitmarsh, wins the final race on Sunday in heavy air, to secure second place in the regatta behind Lazy Dawg. Trig Liljestrand’s J/90 Ragtime was 3rd in the class.
Saturday morning didn’t look too promising, but after a one-hour postponement, an early-season westerly filled in delivering consistent winds in the high teens. Javelin was able to hang close with the Soto 30 Gentoo most of the way around the course. They lost that race by overstanding the leeward layline both times. Picking up a burlap bag on the rudder somewhere in the middle of the race didn’t help. “In races one and three, we made tactical mistakes because our head was so far in the boat—we sacrificed some of our tactics trying to figure out the boat,” said Thorpe.
David Schumann, owner of the J/70 Bottle Rocket (another Quantum-powered boat), was at the helm of Javelin on Saturday. “Coming from a J/70, I was wondering how much bigger this boat would feel, but it was actually really responsive and I felt confident on all points of sail,” said Schumann. “The boat feels stable; it is a pretty stiff platform. Before the bag, it was pretty close racing and that was a lot of fun.”
By all accounts, the C&C 30 is extremely well balanced downwind, especially in the breeze, and it’s easy to get up on a plane. “It doesn’t seem like you have to put the bow up too much to get the boat on the step in the right conditions,” said Thorpe. “We were sailing through the lee of the big boats in dirty air, it was just amazing.” It also has a really high righting moment, that allows for an extra-big spinnaker that gets the boat moving. Sailed to its limit, it could reach 20 knots downwind.
“For people who are looking for the next step in a high performance boat, this would be a good one, especially given that it’s only 30 feet. The boat has a great grand prix set up and controls, and the performance is great. It really lit up going downwind, and that was a lot of fun,” said Schumann.
Upwind, however, is where the boat has exceeded all expectations. The C&C 30 features a really powerful hull, with a wide, powerful set up in the back. Its deep keel and modern bulb contribute to the boat marching upwind. “With the wind blowing 16 to 22, we were really able to see the true character of this boat,” said Thorpe. Throughout the regatta, Thorpe said the crew figured out that there is a huge upwind speed advantage to moving the crew weigh aft.
“The boat is very new so we’re slowly learning the rig set up and the loads. Saturday we sailed the boat a little too high, Sunday we opened everything up and sailed about three-quarters of a knot faster upwind with a tighter rig,” said Thorpe.
“We’ve sailed the boat with six and seven crew, but seven is the real number,” said Norman Davant of Sail California. The seventh crewmember is key for moving the weigh aft upwind, as well as working the running backstays.
“We were aggressively trimming the running backstays in the puffs on Sunday,” said Whitmarsh. “You have to be aggressive with that on the boats that don’t have a permanent backstay. You put on a lot of turns when the puffs come on and then you have to ease really aggressively in the lulls. There’s a lot of work on the runners, especially when it’s puffy.”
“Race four was a culmination of learning the boat enough over the three days, having the right conditions, and not making any mistakes tactically. We realized the potential of how great this boat is,” Thorpe said of the win.
The C&C 30 is a true sportboat: You’re not going to be taking it on a cruise around the bay with your family. You need a few good people who really know what they’re doing to sail it. That said, the boat doesn’t require a huge sail inventory. It is currently being sailed with five sails: one main, a light to medium air jib, a heavy air jib, a flat, light-air kite and an all-around AP kite for medium to heavy breeze.
Another nice feature is the detachable bow pole. “It’s set up similarly to an 18-foot skiff,” said Whitmarsh. “The solid, fixed bow pole keeps the kite projected in front of the boat, but at the dock, all you have to do is undo the bob stay and you can take the pole off, allowing you to keep the boat in a slip.”
The C&C 30 has often been compared to the TP 52, but with the nimbleness and maneuverability of a small sportboat, making it an excellent crossover boat. “It’s phenomenal how similar it is to the big boats in terms of how it responds and its upwind speed,” said Davant.
According to Davant, the market for the C&C 30 is really that of the Farr 280—but that is a true buoy racing boat. “The C&C 30 is a challenging, technical boat to sail, but it’s also a boat that you can take into some big breeze off shore—I’m confident of that now,” he added.
“I’d take it to Monterey in a heartbeat,” Davant said. “But it would be awesome heading west. Put four people on it and you’d have the ride of your life to Hawaii.”
Kudos to the Quantum-powered J/120 Peregrine taking the PHRF 2 class. “I let the crew race without me. I'm terrifically proud of how they’ve handled the boat,” said owner David Halliwill.
“Our speed was good through the CYC series and I attribute much of it to the rig tune and the crewing,” added Mike O'Callaghan who was on Peregrine for the regatta. “The boat is well prepared and everything works. Our sails for this series were from 2011 and have seen a lot of racing since, but they still look very good, especially the 130% jib.”
Quantum sails got Charles James’s Roxanne to the top spot in the J/105 class, as well as the Hanse 370 Min Flicka owned by Julle Le’Vickie in the Non-Spinnaker 1 class.
“We were anticipating wind for both days, so we went tight on the rig, and I think that helped us,” said Elliot James, who was doing bow on Roxanne both days. “Sunday was a real one-design race. We were trading places down the first leg to Blackhaller with Yellowfin and Nimbus. We managed to get in front ahead just before the mark, and led upwind and continued to lead round the second mark. Halfway down the second third leg, we had an exciting moment when we blew up the tack line block. We had to douse the kite, get the jib out, fix the broken block, and get the kite back up with the fleet bearing down on us. Somehow we managed to do it and held on for the win.”
“This weekend was quite interesting. There were a few broaches, a few mistakes, and a few calls that were too close, but we managed to prevail with two seconds to spare,” said Le’Vickie. “It was lots of fun and a well-run regatta. Our Quantum sails worked well, so we’re quite happy!”
Other Quantum boats in the top three include Tim Russell’s J/80 Pain Killer in 3rd in PHRF 3; Ron Kell was 3rd in the Express 27 class with his boat Abigail Morgan; and Ian Matthew’s C&C 29 Siento El Viento was in 3rd in PHRF 5."
Pressure Drop regular Nick Gibbens and crew had a fantastic weekend on Shenanigans, which captured 1st place in the always well contested Express 27 Class; Nick provides some dialogue on the weekend that was!
That was one of the best weekend regattas in a long time. Makes up for some poor ones over the years! I sailed with an excellent primary crew of Dave Gruver, John Collins and Connor Gibbens (bow). Tom Nofzinger and Jim Gregory alternated days as our 5th.
John and Dave were longtime friends of Rob Moore and founding members of BARF so getting out name on the coveted Summertime Dream trophy was a special treat indeed.
Saturday's race was pretty typical "Knox" racing where the right paid - but big shifts at Yellow Bluff could sink or save you. We picked up a couple of good shifts towards the top and were able to get some good separation which quickly crew on the downwind leg. By the second lap we had built a comfortable lead and just tried to enjoy the day and shared some stories about Rob.
Sunday was another beautiful sail - after a marginal start we sailed a less than stellar first leg to Crissy rounding 7th. We were sailing at max weight which helped us work back through the fleet. Dave called a great lay line to Harding helping us squeeze into first by leg 3. The long beat home was bizarre - sailing in a northeasterly with the flood tide! It felt like everything was upside down! Tequila Mockingbird found a nice river of flood working back up to Knox cutting our lead in half - it got dicey in Raccoon Straights not allowing us to relax until the final rounding at Elephant Rock!
Great crew, great weekend, great boats!
Photo : Erik Simonson