November 3, 2014

October 2014 Acapulco Race Repotr | The "Airport Race"

Racers showed up to Club de Yates Acapulco October Regatta for the traditional Airport Race on Saturday and the La Rocheta style Race on Sunday.
All the 52’s showed up and were on the start line together. I would describe Class A as a sandwich, with the big boat Peligroso as a slice of bread and Kayue & Ruahatu holding together the other end! The Farr 40s raced in Class B to “represent” their class. The Farr 40s missed French kiss whom was the only boat missing in the class lineup. Piet Hein and Knitissima were the only boats on the Class C start line.
Only a couple of the cruising boats made the start this month. Several boats were out of the race, due to repairs, but this class still shows lots of potential. We hope to see them ready to go for next month’s Zihuatanejo-Acapulco race!
The Airport Race is pre-handicapped with relative ratings determining the start times for each boat. The slowest-rated boats start first and the fastest-rated boat starts last (Peligroso). All the other boats start at different intervals after Piet Hein and ahead of Peligroso. The format is easy to determine the winner after the start; first boat back in each class is the winner!
Light southwest winds got the fleet off the yacht club start line with spinnakers as each boat started heading for El Presidente buoy. The Farr 40’s looked very tight off the start line as they jockeyed for the first jibe toward the beach with Iemanja taking the early lead to the left. On Destroyer, our spinnaker didn’t open cleanly, making me, the tactician, and Keith Magnussen, the strategist; ponder what kind of race this was going to be! Once the spinnaker was slightly lowered, allowing the spinnaker to open completely, the skipper and crew focused on accelerating the boat speed as the spinnaker went back into full hoist and trim. Seeing several boats ahead on the course, it was easy to see where the wind was strongest and where we wanted to set our jibe points down the bay.
At El Presidente, the jib went up smoothly and the spinnaker slid down the front hatch with a tackline take down, giving us good speed around the buoy. As Destroyer came up on the wind, our strategy was to minimize low speed maneuvers, keep the foot on the “gas pedal” at each turn and get the boat at about .5 knots above targets during the open legs between buoys. The boat kicked into gear thanks to Eduardo steering the boat perfectly at 23 degrees and the apparent wind in the smooth water. Looking up the race course we saw the optimum wind and tack to the ocean buoy was to the right middle side of the bottom half of the bay and then the right side at the top half of the bay passing La Roqueta. Destroyer put time on all the other TP-52’s on this leg and really opened the lead that would be hard to give up. There was simply more wind and shift with the course Destroyer took to the ocean buoy.
Spinnakers were set for the run to the airport. Piet Hein was still the lead boat with the rest of the fleet in hot pursuit. The wind built as the boats passed Puerto Marquez and raced past the beachfront at the mega hotels. I’m not sure if the best wind was against the beach or offshore, or perhaps even on each side. Destroyer was sailing easily with the code 1.5A spinnaker and spinnaker staysail hitting speeds in the 11’s & 12’s at times. The boat was sailing very efficiently and on target for the wind speed and angle down to the airport buoy. With one jibe back in toward the buoy and beach, we could see Piet Hein, Kayue, Velocity and most of the Farr 40’s start the upwind leg with perfect wind and heel. We changed to the medium jib and made a clean rounding to start our upwind leg. Destroyer tacked to port, parallel to the beach, as Vincitore and the other 52’s approached the buoy.
Our game plan for this segment of the race was simple; go fast, don’t sail in any bad wind, pass boats and don’t get passed. We sailed close to 8.7 to 9.0 knots most of the upwind legs to the 2nd rounding of the ocean buoy. When the wind was around 13 knots of true wind speed, the crew moved from hiking foreword near the mast and shrouds to 3-4 bodies back toward the stern. Some crew repositioned behind the skipper and used the rail and aft beam of the boat to balance the boat flatter and smoother motion through the waves. This is a gear change we use for upwind and downwind sailing when the wind builds higher and the motion of the boat changes to needing the crew weight aft and all the way hiked out on the high side. Destroyer reacted very well with ease of steering which made for very fast speed and pointing, the boat was sailing “on autopilot” with very little trim and steering by the crew and skipper!
Destroyer approached the ocean buoy for the starboard rounding with only one boat ahead of her. Piet Hein had led every buoy to this point, now it was Destroyer’s turn as each boat launched their spinnakers! During the spinnaker reach to the final buoy at El Presidente, Vincitore crept up on Destroyer, but right at the last moment an extra puff of wind hit Destroyer’s sails. At the last buoy, Destroyer had a comfortable 90 second lead on Vincitore and about 240 seconds on Peligroso.
The wind was definitely west in the lower part of the bay and showing even more right shift up toward the upper part of the bay. The large Mexican Flag is a great wind tell tale to show racers what the wind is doing in Acapulco Bay. It was flapping parallel down the beach. On Destroyer we took this as stay to the right and don’t let Vincitore sail the beach and inside on us. The crew trimming the sails with every puff of wind and hiking hard, kept Destroyer ahead and to the right of Vincitore. The boat steered upwind very fast and with super pointing all day like we had not seen in a long time (Answer might be take away #3, see below). We were very happy with our performance on the upwind leg(s), which kept Vincitore, Bandido 52 and the other 52’s behind us.
Destroyer crossed the finish line 1st in Class A and 1st in Fleet! What a race! The boat was easy to sail all day and went fast at or above targets (thanks to good B&G instruments) with some steady trimming and helming. The boat did great; we were more than happy with the results. With the boat put away and walking back to the apartment, our long day was not over. To our surprise, Becky Saenz planned and organized a full dinner by the pool party with tables, place settings, food and (lots of) drinks (alcohol of course) to help the Destroyer crew celebrate a big day of racing in Acapulco!
October Airport Take aways:
1. Observe other boats racing for clues to what the wind is doing. Seeing a boat heeling more upwind on the far right of the course versus the other boats sailing in the middle of the course will indicate the far right boat has potentially more wind! Also check other wind indicators like the big flag on the beach in the bay…it is a huge wind indicator telling you what direction and how much wind is blowing along the beach!
2.  If you and your crew did not practice on Friday afternoon, leave the dock 45 to 60 minutes early and practice some tacks, set the spinnaker and do some jibes finished with a racing style take down.
             i.      Getting the crew and skipper in rhythm before the first race will make speed and pointing better upwind and having the spinnaker up once will definitely make the first buoy a smoother & faster rounding. On Destroyer at the start of Sunday’s race, we had the windward spinnaker sheet trapped in the bow of the boat when we hoisted the spinnaker, major problem when we jibed moments later…if we hoisted the spinnaker once before the start, we would of discovered this mistake BEFORE the start, not at a critical time 2-3 minutes into the race!
3.   Race J70’s or J24’s in Valle to keep your helm and crewing levels fresh. There is no substitute for time at the helm, trimming, starting, mark rounding’s and tactics to keep and build your racing and sailing skills.

Farr 40 Airport Race Report

By Pablo Fernandez
As the Farr 40 class continues to grow in Acapulco the last two days of racing were great.
The Iemanja Farr 40 crew is improving a lot and now is another boat to look for at the front of the fleet.
Racing during the airport race had the fleet compressed together most of the way, led by Iemanja Farr 40 and closely followed by Flojito y Cooperando.
Nitemare was closing in until it had the topping lift on the spin pole break. Quick repairs were made while on the go allowing Velasquez’s Nitemare stay in a competitive position while only loosing a little time to the lead boats.
On the last stretch of the race FyC made its move and passed Iemanja Farr 40 to win the Saturday race.

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!

Photo Credit to: Bruce Cooper / CYA / Keith Magnussen