I set out with Ken Cooper of Ullman sails Newport Beach to race Yippee Kai Yay the class 40 on the Crew of Two from Newport Beach Around Catalina, a 90 mile race on July 21st.
We left from Dana Point the morning of the race well prepared with food drinks and spinnakers banded and a socked up 4a. The race started out in Light winds from the Balboa Pier. Ken and I decided to head out for more wind it’s nice with two people only, making decisions very little discussion. After sailing for a few hours we were not seeing the wind we wanted. We could see the Melges 32 skippered by Bruce Cooper and Brian Peterson and the Hobie 33 sailed by Erik Shampain and Keith Magnusson. At about Seal Beach the wind picked up to about 15 kts. That is what ken and I were looking for. We loaded one tank in our water ballast, leveled the boat out some but the wind was still building. We decided to load the second tank full of water. Now we have a full main, full weather tanks, and a #2 head sail up. We looked down and now we are pulling away because we knew the other boats do not have water ballast.
At LA entrance we decided to tack for the island but the waves and wind were very large so we decided to tack up towards point Fermin to limit the amount of distance we have to travel at the island. We reached the island about 40 minutes ahead of the competition. The wind went from 20kts to 6kts at the west end. Then the wind died and we fell into a hole about one mile down the back side.
All of a sudden we see the competition come around the Island. They see us sitting in a hole so they tack out for more wind. At that time we changed back to a #1 head sail. The wind was 60 degrees TWA. After about five minutes the TWA went to 100 degrees so I told Ken to bring up the 1A to set. We got the spinnaker up and the wind started to build and away we went. Next thing we knew we’re doing a solid thirteen kts of boat speed and the wind is 17kts. Ken and I discussed changing to a 2A Plus but we did not want to have any down time. We jibed down the back side of the Island at least three times staying close to shore.
Our plan was to cut the East end until the wind died on us then Jibe to the south until we could clear the wind shadow of the island. After about four more jibes to the south we finally cleared the shadow and headed for the barn. The wind clocked to the south about midnight and that allowed us to keep the spinnaker up and jibe into Newport Beach and we finished at 2:50am at the same place we started.
All around, it was a great race. Ken and I had a game plan from the start; weather, sails, equipment, strategy… what we call connecting the dots. Fortunately all the above worked out for us and we won. Many thanks to Ken Cooper for his hard work on the boat. That’s why they call it crew of 2. In addition of course is the support of all involved in the boat, in this case especially Ullman Sails NB because we had some sails repairs to do ahead of this. And I also want to give big thanks to the South Shore yacht Club race committee team. This race has a history of over 30 years and took over 12 members to manage the the race in a well organized fashion. This race is one that I recommend to all types of sailors. It is a very rewarding challenge.
Barry Senescu, Yippee Kai Yay