March 10, 2015

Islands Race Report | Ullman Sails

The 2015 Islands Race marks the start of the offshore racing season in Southern California.  An eclectic mix of yachts from the Mexican border to Santa Barbara collect themselves in Long Beach and race around two islands and into San Diego every year. 

Forecasters and weather routing experts were busy trying to predict the race and even posting their Expedition tracks on FaceBook for everyone to enjoy.  On board the Jeanneau. Exit Strategy. we were busy planning how the crew would learn as much as possible to prepare themselves for Transpac.

Steve Ginder, who owns Exit Strategy, came to me about a year ago with a plan to do the 2015 Transpac.  He had a vision to prepare the boat and his crew before the event and part of the training included the Islands Race.  We have been working hard to get the boat up to speed with sails and rigging.  A new bottom and about 1,000lbs of cruising gear is making a huge difference.  The new sails in the inventory are: 2A, 4A, Code 0, Blast Reacher, Genoa Staysail, Spinnaker Staysail, #3 Jib and a back up 2A.  An aggressive start to ensure all the angles are covered.

Our crew was pumped up for the first race on the boat and we went about our day getting ready.  By that I mean hopping in a limo to Long Beach.... I am liking the Jeanneau standard so far!

Blake and Kevin enjoying the ride
Back to the sailing.... We had a team brief with the crew.  The entire Transpac crew minus one was in attendance so it was a good time to talk about expectations.  I was only here to coordinate and navigate for the race.  We wanted the actual Transpac guys to do the majority of the work.

Starting in the first start required a bit of an early exit from the slip and we had time on the way to rig the boat.  Having done this race a few times I knew the importance of a good strategy for the Islands.  I spent the motor putting in some basic points on the Expedition for us to aim at.

Pre Srat: Photo By Joysailing
The start was a bit unusual as we were forced to start at the Point Fermin buoy.  This was  due to the heavy traffic inside the breakwater.  We had a great start but could not hang with Sleeper in the light air upwind and they gained a nice advantage as we approached the island. Sleeper is such a well sailed boat and they are also preparing for their second Transpac (Second in class in 2013).
Sleeper Powering Upwind With Her Full Ullman Inventory
As we approached the West End the traffic became congested with the larger boats meeting us for a slight restart.  We had a great rounding of the West End and promptly put up the new Code 0.  We had Freddy Courable design a short bowsprit for this and it worked like a dream.
Meeting Up With The Big Boys

Code 0 and Genoa Staysail
Our outside the rhumb line track positioned us as one of the furthest boats away from San Clemente Island.  We switched to the 2A and started passing boats that were caught in a lot less breeze.  I remember making that same mistake three years ago... not this time I vowed.  At one point we had actually pushed into first place, according to the Yellow Brick Tracking.  It was fun to retrace our steps in the morning and see where we made the big gains.  We even managed to pass a well sailed J-120 boat for boat!  Exciting times for the new crew.

Our gybe came and we remained the outside boat.  It was here that Sleeper was just ahead of us.  After looking at the tracking it was also here that we started to split.  They managed to work a bit lower and get further south.  This was a great move by them as they proceeded to get more pressure and eventually leave us.  Great job guys!

It was also here that I began my viewing of the awesome surf movie North Shore.  I already know the full movie back to front but what better way to inspire sailing to Hawaii than watching this awesome movie.  If you do not have a clue what I am talking about then do not worry about it Haole. 

Night time and early morning was filled with the pole forward bow up adventure.  By no means was it frustrating, more like taxing on the mind.  Sailing in light breeze in any distance race is tough but essential to do well.

Pushing Through The Light Breeze In The Morning
 After pushing through the light stuff we thought we were finally on the "E" ticket ride into SD.  Nope.  The little Columbia 30 pulled up past us and the wind dies again!  So close but so far.  We again managed to push through and get into the bay just int time to cross the finish line and correct out on the Columbia 30.  Second place for the first race, we will take that all day on board the Exit Strategy!  Thank you to Steve Ginder for making it all happen and having the vision for a 2015 Transpac run.

Keith Magnussen

Exit Strategy Crew and Trophy

Steve Ginder
Full Results