Dana Point Yacht Club and Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club hosted their annual Around Catalina Island Race this past weekend in what turned out to be near perfect conditions. Forecast experts were calling for gale force winds topping out at 40kts... The reality was 20+ with maybe a gust of 30. Unfortunately the wind experts did enough to make people second guess the race and drop out, or head down the coast in the cruising class.
13 boats decided to do the full course and were rewarded with a ride down the backside that will not be matched for many years to come. The PHRF spread was -42 to 114 and my money was originally on the beautiful Cal 40, No Parley, that came in as the only competitor in PHRF 4 that finished the race. Owner Dave Reed was thrilled and is now looking at doing a Costal Cup Race after seeing how well the old boat performed in the heavy winds.
I was happy to be on the Flying Tiger 10M Mile High Klub and anticipated some of the most fun sailing I have done in a long time. After a dismal start, 20 minutes late due to engine problems, we crossed the line just in front of Locomotion who was starting in PHRF 1........ the last fleet to get going. It was a little depressing watching our fleet sail out of Angels Gate while we were barely getting to the start. The anticipation of sailing down the backside in big breeze kept us going strong and we plugged along trying to get across the channel in as little time as possible. Our Ullman Carbon #4 was looking good until about half way when the breeze died off. I think it was a little calm before the storm type scenario because 30 minutes later we were approaching the island talking about putting a reef in.
The West End was finally within one tack and as I looked around I had a sinking feeling... we are really the last boat to go around. I was so happy to see the backside I almost forgot that every boat was on the horizon and we had work to do. We hoisted our AP spinnaker (easy choice because we only have one spinnaker to choose from) and started our journey. The wind was not cooperating and the waves were not allowing us to go as fast as we had anticipated. It was tough driving and I felt like we were not making up ground. 45 minutes into this the breeze finally started to really build and the boat really started to get out of the water.
We jibed in before the East end and were now hitting constant 14's with the occasional 17-18 burst. The boat was handling really well and for the first time it looked like we were starting to make a comeback. A few jibes off the East End and we were launched out on starboard tack with boats above and behind us. We watched the 1D35 crash and take down their spinnaker to recover and now knew we were in it. After planning past a J-120 I spotted the boat I was looking for. Matt Beattie's Henderson 30 Reach Around with all my good friends on it just off our port side.
It was here we got our second wind (no pun intended) and gave me the relief of knowing that we had made up for our poor preparation. I just wish I could have been on their boat as they tried to figure out who we were.
The push into Dana Point was interrupted by some light air for about 45 minutes. Once it filled back in we were on course for the finish doing constant 9-10's with surfing in the upper 12's. Approaching Dana Point at around 11:30pm we were anticipating more breeze and right shift... breeze came in too late and the shift never happened so we had to jibe to the finish. The well sailed J-120 Shenanigans just crossed us and essentially won the race with us crossing a minute behind for second place in class. A satisfactory finish to one of the most fun rounding's of Catalina I have experienced.
The full results saw the Andrews 45 Locomotion run out as overall winners... First to Finish, First in Class and First Overall Corrected. Locomotion uses a 100% Ullman Inventory and are preparing for the 2011 Transpac Race. They played the wall at Angels Gate and then headed out into the channel just short of the kelp beds at Point Fermin. I am sure the ride down the backside was fun and I am looking forward to hearing about it from friends that were on the boat.
Congratulations to everyone who participated.. I am sure everyone's stories are equally as exciting and anyone who went along will remember this forever.
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Mile High Klub