Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer is here...

I was out of town yet again this last weekend, but I think that that is it for a few weeks now. Back to being a homebody and settling down for a while.

We did the final spring Encinal Yacht Club Friday night race on Gonzo before heading out though. This one was a little different in that we had a couple of new folks on board as well as Jeff, Cameron, and I. We had Karen drive down from Stockton, as well as Dave who sails on City Lights out with us. This was good as it allowed me just to go ahead and shoot video the whole time without actually being involved with the actual sailing of the boat. Hopefully I can get some of the video up soon.

After the race we stopped by for a visit on the bot that has been our neighbor for the last three weeks. The boat is called Festina Lente and is on it's second circumnavigation of the world. The owner comes form not very far away from where I used to live in England and has a very interesting story to tell. Hopefully we didn't make to much of a pain of an ass of our selves, but it was a very fun night.

The weekend itself was spent up in the mountains again at my folks place. I needed to get some more of the canvas work that I had sold finished up, and Dina just needed a couple of days off. This being summer up in the foothills though it really bought out the heat for the first time in a while. It hit 99 on Saturday and 102 yesterday. Not really weather conducive to canvas work sadly.
Too hot for dogs

We did try one new thing Saturday night and that was to camp outdoors on the property that my folks have. We erected this really cool six person, three room, open top tent that they have.

The Tent from the house

Then blew up a couple of air mattresses, and tried to make the best of roughing it outdoors. Of course we had to set the tent up about thirty feet away from the house in case Dina had to go to the bathroom, and god knows I didn't want to get out of wifi range from the house (Just kidding).

It ended up being a little bit of a bust as Ajax really couldn't settle down enough to let us sleep. Dina ended up moving back into the house with him, but I toughed it out. The only problem for me was the fact that I had to keep re-inflating my air mattress with the battery powered inflater as it had a slow leak in it. Still I considered it a success as I got to sleep under the stars, which were in full view through the open roof.

Roughing it with the battery powered air bed inflater

We are now back in Alameda and ready for a short week of work. There is no Wednesday night racing going on for a few weeks which kind of sucks, but Dave has challenged us to a match race on Wednesday night on his new to him Moore 24. I figure with I use my big headsail and he uses his small one it should be about right upwind. Not to sure about what we are going to do about the downwind though.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Final spring race

Enough of this ocean racing stuff, last night it was back to the Estuary for the final Wednesday night Oakland Yacht Club race of the spring. We now have three or four weeks off till the summer series starts. What we will do with our time, I have no idea.

Dina and the boys took Gonzo out last Friday for a rare visit down to the lower end of the Estuary and the Island Yacht Club for their race. It sounds like they had a good time. Sid from the loft drove with Jeff, Cameron, and Dina pulling the strings. They claimed to have done well, but all I know is when I got to the boat on Tuesday I found Dina's bra wrapped around the mast compression post down below. They all claim it had something to do with holding a Wine bottle in place for the race...

Yep, that looks like a drink holder to me

Last nights race was one of the windier ones this spring so we started with the small jib. The small jib is such a better sail than the bigger sail as it allows us to point higher and I find it easier to drive to. It was just Jeff, Cameron and I figured it was my turn to drive. The wind was a little more North than usual which meant not just tacking up, but gybing down the Estuary. 

Check out the newly installed drink holder...

I was a little early for the start but Vince on Morning Dew let me off the hook and didn't push me over as he could have. But this meant that we got compressed against the Alameda side right after the start and after a couple of tacks and a small duck we once again found ourselves slogging upwind in bad air from the bigger boats in our fleet. It usually takes me about half a leg to get dialed in driving, although we could go out early and practice I suppose, and this was no exception. We did however manage to keep in touch with some boats this time, actually trading tacks with a Moore 24 most of the way up.

Jeff and Cameron doing that thing they do

Jeff and Cameron got us a good set and we had a pretty good run, making a few small gains on the bigger boats. Our gybe at the offset mark was particularly well executed as we had to harden up right afterwards to clear the start/finish line. Not everybody made it, with Vince having to drop his kite and come back to clear himself. Jeff also made a perfect lay line call on the start/finish buoy as we completed our first lap.

Following the fleet

The second lap was when the fun really began. We were coming up to the weather mark just off of Jack London when the spinnaker fell of the boat and began dragging behind. It was a bitch getting it back on board as both it and the bag where completely full of water. Jeff was a little down on himself for not clipping the bag on, but it really didn't hurt us in the end. On the plus side the sail did look really cool all shiny and wet in the evening sun. 

Our shiny wet spinnaker on port gybe!

The highlight though was probably our perfectly executed "Mexican" spinnaker takedown at the bottom mark. Jeff was driving and Cameron and I absolutely nailed it. It was a nice complement to our Mexican beer we all thought and we definitely impressed the hell out of the Colgate 28 that rounded at the same time as us.

So that ends our Spring 2009 Oakland Yacht Club series. We may have ended up 4th in the PHRF greater than 100 fleet, which considering that we are the second smallest boat in the fleet is ok. I think our boat handling is maybe the best in the fleet, and I know for sure that we are laughing and having more fun than the rest of the fleet. 

For the summer series we hope to have some work done on the boat and hopefully in the light we will be a little more competitive. Watch this space...

The End

Monday, June 22, 2009

Coastal Cup recap

Well the whole idea of doing an online running commentary through twitter turned out to be a bit of a bust. I was just to busy, and then we got to far off shore.  So anyway here is my story of the 2009 Coastal Cup.

I have to say I was a little surprised to arrive at Ocelot on Thursday morning to find that our new bowsprit was only just then being bolted into place. Stuff like that really gets you wondering about the readiness of the program. What else has been left to the last minute and may or not be ready to go during the race? As it turned out everything worked out fine, but it was an interesting first impression.

Greg and Catherine testing the new bowsprit on the morning of the race

Our start was pretty interesting with us getting fouled pretty badly by the Andrews 70 Alchemy. Alchemy came down on us while setting up for the start and forced us to bear away to avoid them hitting us. In their defense I don't think that they even saw us till we started yelling at them, and the driver certainly reacted fast enough once he saw us. We protested them but Kevin lost the flag as he tried to show it to them so we eventually flew a red oven mitt off the backstay for the race.

We started with the #3 but changed down to the #1 shortly after crossing under the bridge in 5th place out of the 13 in our division. We carried the #1 for a while and then as the wind went aft we changed to the jib-top. This was maybe 90 minutes into the race and we had already done two headsail changes. The wind soon had come up and we were sailing with the jib-top at ten knots down the coast. Soon though, much sooner than usual in these ocean races the wind had continued to build and swing aft so we decided to put up the A5 fractional kite. Soon we were blasting along the coast with a pretty big swell that had come up. 

Some not so big swell and our protest oven mitt

The wind and seas continued to come up and we soon changed to the masthead A4 kite and then the fun really started. Pretty soon we were doing steady high teens with regular bursts into the twenties. I did not see it but the other watch claimed a high speed of 24.7 kts at one point. Ocelot seemed to just love these conditions. Just smashing along with long sustained runs at 18kts plus. The boat seemed in plenty of control, albeit very wet with water rolling back into the cockpit every time we would stuff the bow into the wave in front of us. The waves were actually a little to close together as we would regularly have our speed runs halted by running into the backs of them.

It was so wet that I actually had my inflatable life jacket go off at one point, so did a couple of others on the crew at various times also. We also managed to set off the on deck EPIRB as well as it got under water sitting in aft sheet bag. It only beeped a couple of times before we shut it down but we still called in to tell the EPIRB people that we were in fact ok and that it was a false alarm. 

Ocelot crew hard at work

We also had at this point one of the best wipeouts I have ever done on a boat. Chris was driving and we got a little crossed up by the waves. I was sitting on the low side grinding and as we went across the the wave I looked down at what must have been a 20+ft drop sideways down the face of wave. The boat seemed like it just fell sideways into the trough of the wave with a pretty good crash, I think any doubts about the structural integrity of the boat might have left me at this point as Ocelot just seemed to shake it off, turn back down wind and then take off on another howling surf as if nothing had happened. I was impressed. 

A little while later we had another spinout in which the A4 decided that enough was enough and split into several pieces. We had seen a hole in the sail earlier, and had talked about changing down as the winds were picking up, but had not made the move. Blowing the kite up made that call for us. One of the funnier things of this whole exercise was that I didn't have spike to trip the tack off of the pole and was using a screwdriver instead. This meant that once I tripped the tack and then ran back to help gather the kite I had to try and stuff this screwdriver somewhere in order to not tear up the spinnaker more. 

After putting the A5 back up we got into our 3 on, 3 off, watch schedule and settled in for the evening. We had several more roundups as we went into the evening, but the boat seemed to come out of them ok. I had the 10pm to 1am watch and tried to get some sleep, but it was never going to happen. The noise and the motion of the boat, the fact that somebody was either coming on or going off watch every hour made it impossible to sleep. That and the facts that I was soaking wet and had been since about the third hour of the race, and that I knew I would have to go on watch soon enough made sleep impossible to come by.

Daniel driving with a big mess in the cockpit

It was late in my watch that after another small roundup we noticed that the spinnaker sheet had gotten over the boom and was sawing away at the leech of the main. In order to deal with this we would grind the main in and then try to flick the sheet under the boom. Of course on one of these we got a big puff while the main was sheeted in and rounded the boat up again. In the ensuing carnage we tore the A5 and then proceeded to lose the whole sail and the spinnaker sheets over the side. This pretty much ended our big night of high speed sailing as we no longer had any of our heavy weather spinnakers left. We put up the Jib-Top and settled into a slightly slower, we were still hitting 18kts regularly, but way more controlled ride south.

I came back on watch at 4am and even though it was still blowing in the high twenties we decided to put up our A2 full size runner. This actually worked out ok because as the sun came up the wind dropped a little bit and although at the top of the A2's range we could handle it for the most part. Eventually we even got bored enough to put up a spinnaker staysail inside the A2 for a little more power. 

Nice clean high speed wake

Shortly after dawn we also crossed paths with the Andrews 56 Cipango as they were heading back out to sea as we were heading in just past Pt. Conception. We knew we had lost a bunch of time due to not having our heavy kites up for about four hours during the night, but we also figured that everybody else would also have had some problems of there own. As to where we stood in the fleet we had no idea so to be able to see the bigger Cipango head out behind us was a big morale booster for us. 

We tried to find the right line between staying off shore with the breeze and inshore heading for Catalina the best we could and did several gybes as tried to thread the needle down the coast. At one point we got about 50 miles offshore before heading back in towards the finish. We also crossed Cipango again, and this time decided that we should start to cover them a little bit as they gave us a good benchmark and something to concentrate on. After a couple of covering gybes we finally got the ideal conditions for us to drag race Cipango in, and despite having picked up some kelp on our keel we sailed through them in nice marginal planing conditions that suited our lighter weight perfectly.

As night fell the wind also began to drop and shift about quite a bit. This led to some pretty funny conversations between Bill and Greg as to what to do. Bill got pissed that Greg kept waking him up on his off watch and Greg was upset that Bill didn't want to gybe away from the mark in order to cover Cipango. We did get them to agree to change down to the A1 though as by now the wind was getting a lot lighter as it got darker. Soon after dark however we could no longer put it off and we put the A1 away and put the #1 jib up. Now the wind shifted and died and tried to find the favored tack into Catalina which was about 45 miles dead upwind. 

Kevin driving on the second day

In the moonless night and with not terribly reliable instruments and navigational data it became a bit of a struggle to keep the boat pointed in the right direction. At one point it came down to me sitting in the companionway watching the GPS and telling Bill, your to high, your to low, or this is a good course. Non of the three course readouts could give us accurate data, and our actual compass was not lighted for whatever reason. 

Greg though finally came on watch and got us a number on a display that worked well enough to point us in the right direction and I finally chose to drive for a while as I seemed to have a knack for driving purely off the instruments well enough. Of course this was driving while close reaching in four knots of breeze, but hey, I had fun.

I went down off watch at 1 am only to be woken up at 2 and told to go lie on the low side as the the wind had died down to nothing. Then at 3 am I was woken up again and told that we needed to get the code zero up. The code zero was a sail that we had just built for this race, and it was why we had put on the bowprit. Of course we had not practiced with the thing or for that matter even bothered to unflake it from when it was delivered from the loft. So Kevin and I got the whole thing set up and hoisted. The results were pretty impressive right from the get go and once we got the thing dialed in a little we were doing between 6 and 7 kts upwind in 3 and 4 kts of breeze.

With the code zero up and pulling we made it to the finish line at 450 am on Saturday morning. We then had to motor another 2 and 1/2 hours to Avalon and our mooring after finishing. As we pulled into Avalon we noticed Cipango already moored which was a bit of bummer as we had lost track of them during the night, but as it turned out they hadn't been there long. 

Ocelot On the mooring in Avalon

In the end we finished 2nd in division A and 5th overall. Not a bad result all things considered. Congratulations to the division A winners, the Andrews 45 Locomotion, which beat us by 5 hours boat for boat. Locomotion sailed a hell of a race, finishing less than ten minutes behind Alchemy and beating the TP-52 Flash boat for boat!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

2009 Coastal Cup tomorrow

Sorry about the lack of posts here lately, things have been a little to crazy the last few weeks. I have been out of town for the last four weekends, and will be again for the next three. Gotta love the summer.

Last weekend I was back up at my folks place to do a little more work for them at their canvas business. Just for a couple of days this time though. 

My Mom working on a canvas job

This week however will be a short week for me at work, actually it is already done. But if you count the days at my folks place I did work ten straight days. So, leaving early and taking a couple of days off is ok, right?

Tomorrow I am off to do the Coastal Cup from here on San Francisco Bay down to the Island of Catalina off of Long Beach. My ride for this one will be the very modified Wylie 44 Ocelot. Ocelot started life off as a cat rigged boat, but has been since converted to a regular sloop rig, but with a lot more sail area with big masthead spinnakers. There are six of us doing the race and you can follow the track here from the Encinal Yacht Club website.

Ocelot racing on the Bay

Another thing I am going to try is to provide updates via Twitter, which if it works as I think it should will allow me to send in text message updates as we go down the coast. Of course how well this works will depends on a lot of factors, some of which are cell signal, battery life and recharging issues, how much spare time I will have, how much the rest of the crew will put up with me fucking around on the phone, etc... Anyway it should be a fun way to follow the race down.

Hopefully if the wind holds and we sail the boat well enough we should get into Catalina Saturday sometime. The plan is to fly back Sunday night so hopefully we will have at least one night to play in Avalon. 

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Spring Beer Can Racing

Once again I am up in the mountains at my folks place.

 I drove up here last night to once again to help out on some of the PTS stuff we are doing. I have to say it is a lot different driving up here at night, as opposed to in the daylight. At night you are just driving off of the little yellow dots in the middle of the road, or off of the dots on the trees and reflective signs on the side of the roads. It is kind of like the old Night Driver video game...

 Up here in the mountains you get some really cool light early in the morning, and seeing that Ajax had me awake just after first light this morning, this was cool to see. Lots of long misty shadows coming through the trees. The air is also very clear up here, so it was also a great night for stargazing. Maybe tonight I will break out the big Telescope that they have up here and check out the stars

Morning light at my folks place

 We did have a couple of very fun beer can races this week. There were four of us on Wednesday with Jessie again joining Jeff, Cameron, and I. Cameron drove and I got to do bow and take photos. This was an interesting race in that they sent us down into the hole. That is the course that takes us down and almost behind Government Island. This course is a little unusual in that it actually requires boats to gybe, something that doesn't happen a lot on the Estuary.

 Some boats gybe better than others

We finished fourth in our fleet across the line, but for some reason they gave us a gun. Not sure what that was all about, but we got a good laugh out of it. We ended up fifth in the results with a Santana 22 that was just starting its second lap when we finished correcting out on us! Obviously this was not the race committee's finest hour. At this point though we don't even bother looking at the results or fighting with the committee.

 The afterguard, Jessie, Cameron, and Jeff

We did finally get our spinnaker halyard issues sorted out. It did take one more trip up the mast right before we left the dock, but by installing a bigger halyard with a nicer taper it seems that we have got that problem licked once and for all. At least it has worked fine both times since then.

Liem crossing the fleet at the start

 Friday night we raced in the Encinal series as the Farr 40 was not going out. They actually offered to let me take the Farr, but I figured that even the insurance deductable on that thing was out of my income range. Dina joined Cameron, Rich, and I for the race, which was a rare treat, as she has not been going out with us a lot this season.

 With the wind up a little and with Dina on board we decided to use the smaller of our two headsails for the race. The smaller jib is the newer of the sails and was actually cut for the furler from new. So, low and behold we actually had better performance with the smaller jib. Despite me stuffing up the start we managed to hold our lane on the first beat for the first time in a while. Usually we have to tack a couple more times compared to everyone else, but this time we actually managed to squeeze another boat off while going to weather.

Winners of the Estuary Goblet Cup

 I think we ended up second for the race, but I think if we get the rig tuned right, that is somebody other than me does it, we should start to see some better results here in the near future.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Couda Been a Contender.

Ok, here is my somewhat overdue report on the Delta Ditch Run.

I have been putting this one off for a few days because I had to think about it a little bit before writing this. While in every respect this was a very good Ditch Run a couple of things happened that had me thinking about this one a little more than usual.

First however we had to do the Friday night race on the Farr 40. This was run out of the Island Yacht Club further down the Estuary than the usual Encinal and Oakland races. For whatever reason the Island YC race committee set a line that was way to short, maybe about a hundred feet long. Since there was a bunch of boats starting including us and another 4o fter. Things were bound to get a little squeezed. We got to the line a little early and in the yelling and swerving that happened we ended up shoving the J-124 over early. After that it was a quick tack into the fleet of starboard tackers that all tacked to get out of our way. 

Tony, one of the owners of Twisted

I don't know it just seemed to me to be a little bit too much. Here we are on the biggest, fastest boat just throwing our weight around basically because we could. Of course, immediately after the start we are  off in our own clean air and out of every body's way, but it kind of left me with a funny feeling.

Now on to the Ditch Run itself. Although the forecast had been for lighter breeze, it turned out to be one of the windier years we have had. We sailed with 9 people on board which actually turned out ok for us. I got to do bow, which despite more wind than usual turned out to be relatively easy this year. One of the big stories in the Ditch Run is the number of gybes you do. This year we did a relatively low 22 gybes. Which with the exception of one we nailed every one of them. The one we missed I managed to get the guy wrapped around the pole, but we recovered from it quickly enough so no harm done.

M did a great job in the pit all day

We were the second fleet to start behind the ultra-lights, and quickly started working our way into the lead group. We actually made it all the way across San Pablo Bay and almost to the Carquinez Straits before our first gybe. A huge difference from last year were we probably did a least a dozen gybes before the first set of bridges. 

Looking back at the fleet in San Pablo Bay

We seemed to have some issues going through the Straits with the strong puffs constantly catching our spinnaker trimmers out. There is a whole bunch of pictures out there of us going through the Straits and in most of them our kite always seems out of sorts. To be sure we weren't the only ones but it definitely hurt us.

Working our way through the A fleet boats

Into Susuin Bay we were the third place mono-hull behind the Melges 32 and the Santa Cruz 37, Javelin. Soon however we ground down the Santa Cruz and were into second. It was just after this point that I actually saw the Santa Cruz hit the bottom hard enough for her transom to come about two feet out of the water. They just hit, did a nice pirouette around their keel, and then slid back on over to the deeper water. No real damage done, but they never got close enough to bother us again. 

Catching Javelin and the Melges 32

After that it was just us and the Melges 32 in front of us. We went through the last bridge about four minutes behind them, which meant that we had been catching them as they started five minutes ahead of us, but we never seemed to really gain on them after that. Also once we got into the twisty part of the Delta proper and they got of our direct line of sight we seemed to ease up on trying to catch them.

In fact I thought we eased up to much for the rest of the ride up. Spinnaker trim always seemed to be a problem, and we always delayed setting right away or going to our various code zero sails, instead staying with the same old jib whenever we took the spinnaker down. I felt that had we pushed a little more we should have been able to catch the 32, or at the very least been able to have a better time than them. Sadly not everybody on the boat seemed to feel that way. 

In the end we finished with an elapsed time of 7:02.02, about six and a half minutes behind the Melges which just missed the course record of 6:57. I was kind of bummed about the result because I felt we left a lot of time behind on the race course

Twisted at the dock in Stockton

Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the race, and the party afterwards, but it was kind of a bummer to have the fastest boat out there, and not have the fastest time, or get the course record. Both of which I believe were there for the taking, especially with some of the crew we had on board. 

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ditch Run Stories...

This has always been my favorite time of the year as far as sailing goes. A couple of weeks ago was  the Spinnaker Cup down to Monterrey, usually a good ride, and next weekend is the Delta Ditch Run up to Stockton. Plus throw in all the Wednesday and Friday night races, it is just non stop good times. 

Last nights race was the usual good time followed up by a poor result. I had gotten back into town from my moms early enough on Tuesday to dive Gonzo and go up the mast to clear the jammed up spinnaker halyard. My neighbor who has the dive hookah that I borrow to clean the bottom also has a thing called a top-climber for going up the rig. It is kind of a goofy apparatus, but after a little practice I could go up the mast no problem and after a bit of a struggle managed to clear the jammed halyard. 

Me up the rig on Gonzo

The worst part of the whole thing was having Ajax who I had thought I had tied up wander off down the dock while I was up the mast. I kept yelling at him but he would just look around at dog eye level and not see me up the rig and just keep on going. Eventually one of the other liveaboards here in the marina bought him back and tied him off for me. 

We sailed with four last night with Jessie from Dina's work joining us for the race. Jeff drove and we got an ok start, but to Leeward of everyone in our fleet. We got stuck in bad air for a while and even after a clearing tack we still had problems making the top mark. Eventually as is often the case we began to sag back after keeping in touch for a while and we ended up fourth. It's a little frustrating to watch one of our competitors round the mark with no jib up and carry on down the track for an extra half mile or so till they get themselves sorted on both bottom roundings and still correct out on us by five minutes. 

This brings me to this upcoming weekend and the Delta Ditch Run. A 67 mile downwind race to Stockton. Usually this is a really fun race with a good party at the end. This will be something like my tenth Ditch Run and every one of them has been a little different. My first one was on the old Benetau 1 tonner Coyote. We did the race with five people and finished third behind the trimaran Defiance and a Santa Cruz 50. I think we finished just after dark that year.

The next year I did it on the Farr 2 tonner Bravura. I remember we had something like 12-14 people on board and the highlight being a screamingly tight heavy air spinnaker reach to get over the point at Benicia Marina. We were doing something like twelve-fourteen knots, pole on the headstay in flat water with all of us hanging off the aft edge of the rail trying to keep it flat enough to make the point. This on an IOR that was certainly not designed for this. 


The next one would have been on a 30 foot Nelson/Marek MORC boat called Insufferable. We had 12 on board and finished third overall by something like 3 minutes. I remember the party at the Stockton Sailing Club being particularly good that year. 

Josh and Panda partying in Stockton

I think that the next one might have been on a Olson 30 with a couple that I knew from Stockton, my girlfriend of the time and one other person. There seemed to be a really big fleet of Olson 30s and we ended up second in the fleet to finish but corrected out to third for some reason, I think because we had bigger head sails or something. This was a good year because of the good tight fleet racing with six or seven of us being within a mile or so of each other at the finish. 

Me, Kathey, Renee, and Chris on the Olson 30

Next was on the Azzura 310 with Jeff Thorpe, the Mativitch brothers, and the late Joakim Jonsson. Jeff absolutely nailed the start and we sailed in the top two or three boats most of the way. This might have been the best sailed race I have done as far as the level of racing that we did. We were second boat for boat behind the J-125 Javelin and were actually close enough behind them to see them run aground a few miles from the finish. They had to be towed out of the trees and ended up dropping out, but we eventually got passed by a Melges 24 to end up second to finish.

Javelin on the rocks from the Azzura

The next two times I did the race were both on Melges 24's. The first one was with four girls, all Europe dinghy sailors, who had borrowed the boat and basically needed someone to help with local knowledge and then to help them break the boat down once we finished. I did end up doing some of the trimming when the breeze picked up across San Pablo Bay. The name of the boat for that race was "Four chicks and Dominic'. The second time was on a boat called Smokin' were we dropped back early but clawed our way back to second before pushing it too far with  and ended up tearing the kite during a crash. I think we ended up second to last in the 24 fleet that year. I remember it mostly for being the day that Ronald Reagan died for some reason.

Then it was time to get serious and do the ditch the right way. We took the Santa Cruz 52 City Lights up three years ago. Shoal draft keel, working refrigeration, and some pretty good people all added up to one of the better rides up to Stockton. The best part of this year was the nearly 45 mile long match race with the Santa Cruz 50 Surfer Girl. We were basically overlapped or within a couple of boat length's of them pretty much the first two thirds of the race. We eventually got away from them when we did a better change down to a Genoa for one stretch and got a couple of hundred yard lead on them from which they never recovered. We were first monohull to finish, but corrected out to 90th out of 92 finishers in the end. 
A typical Ditch Run scene

Last year however it was time to go the other way as Steve, Jeff, and I raced Steve's Columbia 5.5 Seabiscuit. A slow boat with a great rating was our plan to overall success and we came pretty damn close finishing second overall in a fleet of 127. With it being light and the sport boats not being able to get up and plane it was the perfect year to take the long water lined 5.5. Being able to sail right down the middle of the track at hull speed the whole time while all of these light weight race boats sailed horrible angles across the course was the key. It still took us eleven hours to sail the course, but we had a faster elapsed time than a lot of theoretically faster boats. We actually had a faster time than one of the Melges 24s in the race! That should never had happened. 

Jeff, Steve, and I arrive victorious in Stockton

Monday, June 1, 2009

Home away from home

Been away from the Estuary for the last few days. Have to say, I miss my little floating home on the Bay. 

However before leaving on Saturday morning I did manage to squeeze in a Friday night race on the Farr 40. Back when Tony and Mike had the Summer Moon our biggest problem was usually too many people. This time it was too few. We raced the Friday race with six people, and two of those were not real experienced. 

You know what? It was just too hard work. A Farr 40 on the Estuary just gets to the marks too fast. Add in the fact that we are still getting used to the boat and every mark rounding was a fire drill. The kite wasn't packed on the first set, we didn't get the jib up soon enough and that led to problems getting the kite down on both bottom roundings. Worse yet, I didn't even have time to finish the beer I opened, just to darn busy. Still it was good night out and with a couple more people onboard who know what they are doing we are going to have a lot of fun on that boat.

On Saturday we drove up to my folks place up in the Sierra foothills. They live on something like forty acre's due east of Stockton, near a town called Mountain Ranch. Where they also are partners in a small store.

Moms little shop of Canvas and Compost

It is truly a great place to go if you want to get away from everything. The point of this whole thing was for Dina to get some time in my mothers shop and start the process of re-doing our cockpit cushions. It is also a chance for me to get some experience with the type of work that my folks do, something that I may be doing more of here in the future. 

My folks have a custom canvas production business called Precision Technical Sewing (PTS). This is a little more than your typical marine canvas place. They do some pretty cool stuff up here. Some of the clients they have include NASA, Stanford University, as well as some local stuff. They run it out of a couple of the buildings here on the property and they seem to be doing well with it. 

Plotter building

Sewing workshop

The last couple of days I have been working on some of the projects that they have going on. It has been fun working the plotter, and trying to figure out how to put together some of the fabric things they have going on. 

The plotter in action

Another thing that they have up here is one of those endless pools, a smallish pool that has a motor that pushes a constant stream of water. This means that you can swim in place for exercise. It does take some getting used to, but it is kind of cool.

Endless pool boy

I have another day up here before heading back down to the Estuary. It has been a few good days of learning new things, and good healthy country living. nothing beats moms home cooking. But I am ready to get back to the water and do some sailing.