December 11, 2012

Champagne Race - Report

By Bruce Cooper

This years race for the champagne in Acapulco made the racers very thirsty. What seemed like a nice reaching oriented race turned into a tacking battle in the channel at Boca Chica. The wind was looking promising at 6-7 knots from the southwest that steered the fleet on a nice beam reach to the first buoy at El Presidente. The wind continued to cooperate by staying to the left and allowing the fleet to sail a predominately Port tack beat to the Boca Chica channel.

Not too much action by this point of the race, sailors were thinking about a quick sail up the channel, get to the next buoy and set the spinnaker for the finish and champagne time! That plan was about to change, change big time.
The lead boats from class B entered the channel just ahead of the front  boats from class A. As the fleet approached, it appeared the wind had totally becalmed the lead boats as Vincitore and the smaller boats ahead appeared "parked". In all my years racing in Acapulco, I have never seen so many boats stuck together at one time. It was a strange scene, there was wind but no boats were speeding up the channel! The tide had just changed to flooding (current coming in) in to Acapulco Bay at the exact same time as the fleet entered the channel and faced the incoming river of tide and current. I am sure there was 2.5 to 3.0 knots of tide pushing the fleet backwards.

Strategy at this point of the race was to stay in the shallow water (less tide movement) on the Roqueta side of the channel. Wasabi and BSM mastered this tactic in class A and Persephone in class B. All the boats tacked double to triple times more than a "normal" race up the channel. I am sure most of the boats tack 12 to 16+ times to exit the channel and make their course to the ocean inflatable buoy.

After all the tacking, racers had to be thinking, Where's the champagne, I'm thirsty! No champagne yet, there was more sailing and racing!

The first boasts tacked several more times to get lined up for the ocean inflatable buoy while the boats closer to the Roqueta sailed toward the buoy with less tacking while taking advantage of a 20-25 degree wind shift to the left letting them sail almost directly with no tacking. This was a big break for the boats left behind in the channel battling the tide to catch up with the race leaders. The biggest gains were in class B as many boats closed in on the leader Persephone who had a commanding lead at this point in the race. Vincitore rounded first and set their big blue spinnaker followed by Kayue 52, Wasabi, Madina, Persephone and BSM.

The spinnaker reach back to Puerto Marquez Bay was very straight with very little tactics or maneuvers until the race boats approached the Bay. At this point in the race, the race had slowed down to almost three hours and would quickly slow down when the sun set and the wind would fade away.

Racers could almost taste the champagne, just a little further.
Vincitore finish first and was hoping and praying the wind would fade on the fleet as the other boats approached the Bay and finish line. Not this time Vincitore. Wasabi skillfully sailed into the Bay with good speed and maneuvered perfectly into the finish to correct 1st in class and 1st overall in fleet. Right behind during a lot of the race and correcting out only 64 seconds behind Wasabi was the Farr 50 BSM. Very close racing.
The champagne was getting iced, almost drinking time.

As the rest of the fleet entered the Bay with their spinnaker pulling them to the finish line, the race crews quickly put away sails and prepared their boat to join the other race boats anchoring at Pichilingue. The captains and crews helped each other tie up next to the other boats and secure the ropes while congratulating each other on a good race and a great racing season.

It was finally champagne time! By no surprise, large amounts of cold bubbly champagne, smooth cerveza and perfectly (strong) mixed Cuba's were consumed to quench the thirst of every hard working and deserving sailor! The swimming, eating drinking and camaraderie is a special way to end the champagne race and the race season, it is great to visit and talk to all the wonderful people who share the passion of sailing and racing.

Thank you to Club de Yates Acapulco for all their support this year in hosting the races and in editing and publishing the race reports. Special thanks to America Marin and Viridiana Sanchez from the race office who email me with perfect timing to supply me with results and pictures of the races, Muchas gracias.

Congratulations to all the sailors that competed in the local races (especially the new class C boats) and MEXORC to make this one of the best years for sailboat racing in Acapulco.

Ullman Sails and Servicios Maritimos Acapulco and Valle de Bravo hope the very best for you and your family and crew this Holiday season. We will see you in January for the start of another big year of sailboat racing in Acapulco!

Gracias por VELEAR con Ullman Sails,
Tomas Span - Mexico U/S Dealer
Erik Brockmann - Mexico U/S Dealer
Have you been to the SMA website??
Contact your local Ullman Sails dealer for 2013 sail specials and scheduling Friday afternoon crew practices!B