Tuesday, March 24, 2015

XXIII Banderas Bay Regatta

Not long after we arrived in La Cruz the J/109, Joyride appeared on our gangway and the owners, Jim & Jenn invited us to sail with them in the upcoming Banderas Bay regatta. Joyride came down from San Francisco Bay in the Baja Haha last November and has been cruising along the mainland coast with their two schnauzers, Harvey and Phoebe, for the last few months. The boat is fully outfitted for cruising, including a dodger, bimini, solar panels and a full load of cruising gear, supplies and provisions aboard. To further complicate matters for us, we were given a rating of 73 for this PHRF event and were limited to using the class jib instead of a genoa. Needless to say, the combination of extra weight and small sails made Joyride a sticky boat in the light conditions and chop of Banderas Bay, so we harbored no delusions about where we might place in the regatta. Instead we focused more on enjoying three days of casual racing.

 Our competition consisted of:
Olas Lindas (Varianta 44) PHRF 56
Gypsy (Columbia 52) PHRF 107
Bright Star (Jeanneau Sunfast 40) PHRF 80
Wings (Serendipity 43) PHRF 78
Alarife (Ron Holland 40) PHRF 99

Sistership to Olas Lindas. The Varianta is a Judel/Vrolijk design built by Hanse Yachts.

On the first day of the regatta there is always a parade of the competing boats as we head out to the starting line. This year the theme was Pirates, so our crew, including Harvey and Phoebe, were dressed in pirate scarves and brandished bottles of rum as we made our way past the reviewing stand.


The forecast was for 12-18 knots of wind so we felt okay about the small jib. Jenn was our designated driver and Doug worked the sharp end of the boat while Jim, Lisa and Josette ran the cockpit. Harvey and Phoebe took up stations in the quarterberth as we lined up for the start. Being the smallest boat in our class I positioned us at the committee boat end of the line when the flag dropped. Unfortunately the wind stayed light and we got rolled by the bigger boats. The course was a triangle-sausage and we were the third boat around the weather mark. On the reach out to the wing mark we passed the Jeanneau, with the Varianta well in the lead. We got passed by Wings just before reaching the leeward mark. Then the deck got shuffled. The wind went light and shifty. Wings went right, along with Gypsy and Bright Star. We tacked to starboard and headed out to the left side of the course and managed to find a bit more breeze. We could see Wings in the distance going slow as we ghosted along. Before long we were near the port tack layline and had a quarter mile lead on them as we worked our way out to the last weather mark. But as luck would have it, Wings found a breeze and came barreling at us, making up nearly all the distance we had gained on them. We rounded the weather mark and set the kite a hundred yards ahead of them. As soon as the kite was up and drawing the wind shifted to NE, turning the run into a beat. We quickly doused the chute and unrolled our jib and managed to cross the finish line in second place, about three minutes ahead of Wings and ten minutes behind Olas Lindas. Though we corrected out to 5th, we felt good about our performance.

On day two, we started again in light air a little down the line from the committee boat, seeking a clear air lane. Again, we got rolled by the big boats off the starting line but managed to round the weather mark in third. The next leg of the race took us on a close reach to the sea buoy off Puerto Vallarta. It was all about waterline length and, being the small boat in our class, we got passed by all of our competition and corrected out to 6th.

On the last day of the event we sailed three times around a windward-leeward course. Though the committee boat end of the line was favored, we opted for a clear air start closer to the pin end of the line and crossed it going fast in about 12 knots of wind. We played the left side of the course on the first beat and rounded in second place behind Olas Lindas. With a steady breeze all day, we worked the shifts and were the second boat to finish, about eight minutes behind Olas and 24 seconds ahead of Wings.

Overall, it was really fun sailing the J/109 in spite of our unfavorable rating. The weather was perfect and we were entertained by breaching humpback whales throughout the regatta. Vallarta YC was, as always, a splendid host and brought in Luna Rumba, a Latin/fusion band for the party after the trophy presentation.

With the regatta behind us, we had time for a quick trip to California where we took care of some business and reconnected with friends. We're back in La Cruz now and preparing to head north to Mazatlan and the Sea of Cortez.

While in California I had time to go for a long bike ride and got a nice picture of Newport's Back Bay in the late afternoon.

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