Monday, March 17, 2014

Banderas Bay Regatta

It is officially called the Regata Internacional Bahia de Banderas. It is a three day, three race event for cruising boats and it is hosted by Vallarta Yacht Club. It was interesting to see how many of these cruising boats opted to fly in crew member from the States. We sailed aboard Snapdragon, a Beneteau 473, which is a big sister to our 423. Instead of flying in from the states we took a bus from our current and very lovely home port of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle to Paradise Village, where the race was headquartered.

Snapdragon is outfitted and equipped, like most Beneteau 473's, with a smallish jib, in-mast roller furling mainsail and lots of cruising gear. By cruising gear I mean dinghy davits, bimini and dodger, and a long list of other cruising must-haves that are never seen aboard racing yachts.

The 473 incorporates many of the same features as the 423, including the cast iron bulb keel and conservative sailplan.
Basic dimensions of the 473:
LOA:  46.92'
LWL: 43.83'
BMAX: 14.16'
DRAFT: 6.92'
SA: 914 sf
DISP: 24,277 LB
BAL: 8157 LB

Sistership to Snapdragon courtesy of

The photos show a boat with good speed potential, especially off the wind. Like the 423, it's keel shape is not particularly well suited for upwind work, so I was a bit surprised at our upwind performance which was better than that of our competitors in Class D. This enabled "the Dragon" to get to the weather mark first in all three races.

Here are the results for our class. (For complete results go to

D Start

Sailed: 3, Discards: 0, To count: 3, Rating system: PHRFTOT, Entries: 6, Scoring system: Appendix A
RankBow_NumFleetBoatClassOwnerRatingBBR XXII - Race 1BBR XXII - Race 2BBR Race 3TotalNett
1stD18Cruiser Class DDaringDawn 48 KetchCraig Chamberlain1101.
2ndD16Cruiser Class DSnapdragonBeneteau 473Russ Johnson892.
3rdD67Cruiser Class DSurBeneteau 49Alajandro de La Pena934.002.004.0010.0010.00
4thD19Cruiser Class DAdiosColumbia 43Craig Shaw1163.004.003.0010.0010.00
5thD20Cruiser Class DWind ChimeHunter 430Neal Albrektsen1335.005.005.0015.0015.00
6thD17Cruiser Class DScoutJeanneau SO 52.2Greg Himes1016.006.006.0018.0018.00
Our pickup crew consisted of a couple of experienced racers and some inexperienced friends. What the friends lacked in experience they more than made up for in enthusiasm and good humor. We didn't exactly laugh our way around the course, but it was a lot of fun sailing together. As you can see from the results, the Dragon finished second in class. To make it even more interesting, none of us, except for Lisa and I, had ever sailed together or, except for the owner, sailed aboard a 473.

Snapdragon's Crew. We started the regatta with six but by day three we had recruited a couple more guys.

In race 1 we won the start and led at every mark of the course which was a triangle-sausage-upwind finish. We sailed conservatively, given that our foredeck crew had never actually done foredeck before, so we didn't have any boathandling errors but we missed saving our time on the second boat by two seconds.

In race two, we won the start and in about 15-17 knots of wind sailed out to a comfortable lead against all of our competition. The course was a 16 mile long triangle-sausage-upwind finish and as we approached the last leeward mark we were about five minutes ahead of the second place boat. Unfortunately we wrapped the kite around the headstay on the jibe and blew the lead, finishing third.

On day three, the wind lightened up. We started in about 8 knots of wind and Snapdragon suffered in this light air. We managed to eke out a small lead at the weather mark and bore off on a reach to the jibe mark which was about four miles away. On this leg we were caught by Adios and Daring just as we approached the jibe mark.  There was plenty of drama at the mark as Daring and Adios fought their way around it. We chose to take the high road to the mark and both of the other boats rounded ahead of us by less than a boatlength, but we came out of the rounding going higher and faster than them and quickly regained the lead.
We held onto it until we were within a few boatlengths of the last leeward mark before the finish where we snarled the jib furling line and were unable to completely unroll the jib. Daring passed us and held the lead to the finish. We ended the regatta with a second in class, which I thought was pretty good for our crew. And, like I said earlier, we met some great new friends and had a wonderful time sailing on what is arguably one of the finest sailing venues in the world.

Russ and I after the trophy presentation.

After the regatta we celebrated with the rest of the crew at Paradise Village. To mark the occasion Lisa reached deep into our wine locker and brought out a bottle of 1997 BV Georges de Latour cabernet to share with the crew. It was superb.

In summary, we were fortunate that Russ had his cruising boat well prepared for the regatta and proved to be an excellent helmsman, which was a key part of our success. I also want to thank Greg, Alan, George, Lon, Steve, and most importantly, Lisa for making this a really great regatta.

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