September 8, 2014

July 2014 Acapulco Rac

July 2014 Acapulco Race
by Bruce Cooper
For 8 years, I have participated in many races and experiences in Acapulco, which has made it a special place to sail and race. I am privileged and blessed to be a professional sailor and sailmaker who gets the opportunity to sail in the world’s best sailing grounds and regattas. This month’s Acapulco race was new and different, not just for me, but for the new crew of the TP-52 Patches.
Patches new owner, Eduardo Porter, made the jump from regularly racing J24’s and J70’s in Valle de Bravo, to ocean racing in Acapulco on his newly acquired TP-52.
The Class A at CYA is definitely the hottest fleet out there with five 52’ers and Peligroso who recently joining the local boats on the start line. These are amazing boats that rip around the buoys with awesome speed and tear across the oceans when racing downwind offshore races! This is a big jump for Porter and his crew to leap into this high expectation and standard of boat and racing.
Erik Brockmann got the weekend started with the new Patches crew with a shakedown sail Friday afternoon. With a late Friday afternoon flight from LAX, I watched them sail in the bay as my taxi came over the hill and drove along the coast toward CYA. Patches looked healed over and moved well in the freshening breeze as the sun started to slide toward the horizon. They arrived back at the dock with everything still in one piece, so off to a good start!
My experience crewing on Patches includes major offshore races and the majority of the local races for over 4 years. While on this boat, I am very comfortable and confident racing.
The new challenge of racing Patches will be adding a completely new skipper and crew, the exception being Patches power plant on the coffee grinder, Abdul Saab. Without the winches being pumped/turned properly and at the right time, the sails cannot be trimmed or adjusted. If the coffee grinder and winches are not working, the tp-52 will not sail to her full potential... It would be like driving a Ferrari in 1st gear only…not that exciting!
Saturday morning arrived with the new crew making their way down to the boat.
Porter kept up the tradition of racers in Acapulco; your family and friends are your sailing team. Porter was joined by his daughter, brother, cousin (Kenneth Porter, yes, that Kenneth Porter), nephews and some close friends who race on the J24 and J70. The normal crew size is 13 or 14, our final head count was 17 or 18, but who was counting. This was going to be a special day full of teaching and watching the crew learn their new crew positions and their new boat.
As the crew went to hoist the mainsail, we learned it has to be a well timed and coordinated maneuver with the coffee grinders and trimmer. If hoisted to fast, the bolt rope jumps out of the pre-feeder and the sail needs to be completely lowered and hoisted again. Patches’ crew only had to lower the main twice before getting the main hoisted to the correct position. This was a whole new process for the Patches crew.
After hoisting the main, the jib went up and we practiced tacking and getting the winches working in unison. The crew work was already coming together. By the time Class A started, tactician, Ken Porter, positioned Eduardo and Patches perfectly on the line, but at the pin end away from the fleet and committee boat. Patches sailed to the left middle of the course, but the stronger wind was on the right middle to right side of the 1st leg. Patches rounded the 1st buoy behind Peligroso, the other 52’s and Ruahatu, but performed a gybe set to sail in the better wind. This move paid off as Patches closed the gap to the lead boats.  Racing with a new crew on their first race presents new challenges in normal situations that we all take for granted. Porter called for Patches to gybe from port to starboard and get down to the leeward mark. However, E. Porter turned too fast, and the spinnaker trimmers and grinders could not keep up flipping the spinnaker inside out and right through the fore triangle which caused a big wrap in the spinnaker. Luckily, the wind was low strength allowing Saab and the grinding team to “grind” the wrap out and let the spinnaker fill with breeze allowing Patches to get back in the race. The rest of the race Patches kept the maneuvers simple and finished behind Bandido 52, Kayue, Ruahatu, Peligroso, Kayue 52 and Vincitore and just ahead of Trigarante. Not terrible for a first race!
More wind showed up for the second race. On the TP-52’s one more knot of wind will increase will speed upwind and definitely more speed downwind. K. Porter and the Patches crew s learned this as we approach the start line a little too fast, crossing the line 15 seconds too early! E. Porter steered Patches back around the committee boat and cleanly re-started just ahead of Peligroso and Ruahatu who were to close for comfort when maneuvering to the start line. Race two proved to be a good morale booster for Patches as the better wind kept the racing close boat to boat for most of the race. The results proved to be an even better morale booster because Patches placed in 3rd place behind Bandido 52 and Vincitore. No doubt, real good results, but lots to learn to get ahead and stay ahead of the other fast boats in Class A!
Racing in Acapulco always comes down to Sunday racing to end on a good note. Patches skipper and crew showed up excited to put themselves and the boat through some more paces. The wind was cooperating and building from the Southeast to East (but not a strong as the June Regatta!!) with no real chance of flying a spinnaker off the start line when heading for El Presidente buoy. But, to be in good race mode, Patches and other boats had spinnakers on deck and hooked up just in case the wind moved to the southwest, just in case. The start horn sounded and Class A eased jib sheets and sped toward El Presidente at 10+ knots. On Patches we were over anxious and hoisted the spinnaker and turned off course toward the beach to fly the spinnaker. Patches was going fast, but in the wrong direction. Now the Patches crew had to learn how to get the spinnaker down with the leeward rail under water! My main objective at this point was to keep everyone safe and the boat and sails in one piece. Having never practiced this maneuver, we pulled it off without any casualties and got Patches back in the race. In the first ten minutes we spotted the fleet five minutes…ooops! The lesson learned here was to be sure of wind angles, what sails to use, and to go with the suggestion of the crew that know!
The rest of the race was perfect sailing with 10+ knots of wind with a high of 16-17 knots. The race course was to exit from El Presidente and round the Roqueta to starboard and go down Boca Chica to El Presidente before the finish back at CYA. There were no passing lanes with lots of headsail reaching and only one ¾ mile spot where spinnakers could be hoisted. The big blue Peligroso led the way from start to finish taking first for race #3.  The new Patches crew learned that we gave up too much time at the start of the race, which ultimately led to us finishing in 5th place behind Peligroso, Vincitore, K52 and B52.
Acapulco proved to be an excellent place to sail and race for new skippers and crew and seasoned old timers. I expect to see big improvements in all the Class A boats now that so many talented sailors and boats are in this competitive fleet. E. Porter and his Patches team have their goals set on improving on the local circuit as well as some upcoming ocean racing across the Pacific. They all share the Acapulco sailing spirit of having fun on and off the water and can’t wait till the next regatta! Don’t be surprised to see them on the winner’s podium soon!
August Take aways:
1.  Whether racing with a new or regular crew, call the timing of the maneuver (e.g. tacking in 3….2….1….”tacking”). Talking out loud will help coordinate the crew and speed of the maneuver.
*This gets the crew’s heads in the game and lets them be active sailors and not re-active. Tacks, gybes, hoist, take downs, etc will get lots faster and easier with this timing system.
2.  Practice sailing up to the start line for a “fake” start several times before the start sequence. Get the timing down of when you have to tack or gybe to get back to the start line with full speed.
*Patches was early to the line on Race #2 because the boat was moving a lot faster than the tactician anticipated. A few runs at the start line would have helped get the timing down with the speed and wind increase. The same is true for if the wind drops, it will take longer to get to the start line….practice a few times to get it figured out.
3. Before the start, talk with the whole crew about what the wind is doing and what tactics and sails you are planning on using that leg and/or race. This keeps the whole crew thinking and concentrating on the conditions on the race course, if the boat is trimmed optimally, and if the sails are set correctly. Also, the foredeck crew and trimmers will know about expected jib/spinnaker changes that might be forecasted.
*On Sunday’s race, Patches went out toward the middle of the bay to check the wind down from the start line to see if it was west, south or east. It was south east so we knew it would be jib reaching and a spinnaker was highly unlikely. The correct sail at the start was the jib, but for some reason we hoisted the spinnaker. We had a good plan; we just did not follow it.
Gracias por VELEAR con Ullman Sails,
Tomas Span - Mexico U/S Dealer, Erik Brockmann - Mexico U/S Dealer, Bruce Cooper
Contact U/S for info on the Worlds fastest growing one design J70 and scheduling Friday afternoon crew practices!

**Resultados no oficiales**
Photo Credit to: Bruce Cooper / CYA