26 May 2017
Capraia - Sweden 46
I'm lucky enough to be enjoying a long weekend in sunny Scandinavia - having flown up to Oslo, Norway to join some Viking pals for this race on Wednesday.
The Skagen Race runs from Norway to Denmark, around 120 miles, and it's very popular in the region.
Pal Hallsteins boat Capraia wasn't built for racing. She's a very pretty heavy luxey cruiser, a Sweden 45, complete with dishwasher, plumbed in expresso machine, and more toys and gagets than I've ever seen on one craft. Plus this year she's fully loaded with cruising gear as they plan to move on from Skagen and commence a two month summer cruise up Norways west coast. So she was sitting well down on her lines (as you can see from the media shot above) when I jumped aboard.
But it's well designed, so despite her weight, when the wind builds and she's pointed in the right direction, Capraia can lift her skirts and move out at pace. Sadly even if she was unloaded, she will never win any race with the rating handicap she carries. But guess what? I'm not actually here for the racing. But rather the post race party in quiet little Skagen.......
In my view, the end race restiveties in Skagen beats Cowes, Palma, Antigua or Hamilton Islands race weeks into a cocked hat. Honest.
In our lead up to the party, we enjoyed a fab 120 mile race. Started 2000 on Thursday in a fleet of 250+ yachts. Five up, Hallstein skipper, Hakkon and Tjertil up front, Leif and self in cockpit. And all swopping as needed. Luckily Hallstein was happy for me to do to a fair amount of helming, so I left the hard work to others, as we focussed on getting the best out of her.
Got a sweet start under Code 0 to get her right up the front of the leading pack close reaching south in medium breeze as we exited Norway heading towards the single rounding mark off the Swedish coast, before then turning for the finish over in Skagen, Denmark.
Forecast was for medium northerlies, and apart from the start, that's exactly what we eventually got.
Lovely warm weather. Sure, temperature dropped at night on the water, but we were all rugged up nicely. It's still the 'white nights' this far north so barely noticed any darkening of the sky as we first gently coaxed the boat through a two hour long soft patch around midnight (that saw us move closer to the back of the pack), then went up through the offwind sails as the wind veered round to the north and thankfully, built to its promised 15/20 knots.
That extra wind, a good choice in suitable foreward sails, and full time hard work by the guys on the foredeck helped us storm along working our way back up the fleet. Capraia kind of ploughs through the seas rather than skips over the top, but her powerful rig kept us doing high 9's (and topped 10.8 at one point) under kite. We overtook loads all streaming down the rhumb line, and can't recall anyone doing the same to us.
Two instances of overtaken boats trying to luff us illegally (nighttime race rules are over-ridden by international maritime rules) but never a drama.
When the sun crept above the horizon we surprised ourselves back up with the leading group and when shortly after we reached the Swedish rounding mark, we swopped kite for Code 0, hung a right, and began an early crossing of the last 40 miles to Denmark.
Tidal charts had indicated this was where adverse tide (lots of movement in this bit of water) was for the least distance, so we chose that as our power gate and charged through. Log showed at its worse it reached 2 knots against us.
But it was all Basically straight line sailing (except for the early soft patch), but as we swooped in to the finish Hallstein and his Vikings seemed well pleased with our placing - up close by competitors who were normally far ahead.
So weather wise, we got a bit of everything on this race. Nice to have such a challenging set of conditions - and nicer still to meet them.
Tough sail - titling. But we also had a real laugh, and getting back to somewhere in the first 10% (over the line) made us all feel good. And of course, making it in early to Skagen gave us more time than most to prepare for the evenings entertainment ashore.....
With 250 crews, maybe only 4 popular bars / clubs, this quiet little town heaves post race. It's so popular that thousands - literally - of Swedish girl friends also ferry into Skagen for the social. All good innocent fun, and Its my third time doing this. Simply great.
With Thursday and Friday nights full on drinking and dancing, both ending sometime twix 2 and 3 am, I've been happy to find a comfy seat at the airport and equally on the plane, so I can gently snore my way back home.
Great stuff. On. On. Especially for Skagen 2018......
Spring Series 5 Clubs - Calpe
22 May 2017
Good view of our new carbon wheel as we slope around pre start
Light winds dominated over the weekend as our home club, Real Club Nautico Calpe, hosted the last race in this Spring Series.
The club overlaid the weekend with its own Rumbo Solidario Regatta, planning four windward / leeward races on Saturday and Sunday. The first of those four was chosen to be the last 5 Clubs event.
Approximately 35 yachts competed, several coming from as far afield as Alicante, divided into four divisions. It all got a bit confusing as the divisions set by ratings were not the same as those normally set in the 5 Clubs, so once again we found ourselves racing for line honours against larger yachts.
But as always, we only had eyes for our two main sparring partners, Dale Andar (Dufour 36P with slightly worse rating) and Pajuelin (Salona 37 with an increadible low better rating).
Race 1 we got a good start about 1/4 down the line. The boat end got a bit crowded but we were away on the gun, at pace, and easily found the slot to tack over and work the right hand side offshore where it looked a little fresher.
Here's a link to a video with plenty of shots of Jumbuck going to windward.
Did ok upwind but still found ourselves right on the tail of Dale Andar at the first windward mark. Rounding smoothly, they gybed and worked the right side of the course whilst we went left along with Pajuelin who wasn't far behind. Afraid Dale Andar got that call right, and opened up an unclosable gap - and Paguelin was hard to shake off. She stuck with us and finished less than a minute behind. With handicaps applied it meant three visiting boats (Farr 40.7, Dufour 40S, and Grand Soleil 37) took top places, Dale Andar 4th, Pajuelin 5th, Jumbuck 6th.
So the Spring Series ends with the same order as at race 4. Dale Andar 1, Pajuelin 2, Jumbuck 3. Not what we wanted, but quite satisfactory end to our first 5 Clubs season and we know we can only improve in the autumn 5 Clubs Series which starts in September.
Race 2 of the Rumbo Solidario saw us starting in even lighter winds. This time the boat end wasn't so crowded so we timed it well and got another good clear start - and this time retained our lead over both Dale and Andar and Pajuelin at the top mark. Again we worked the left side (why you are asking - it was to avoid adverse current) and maintained our lead down the first run, but it developed into a three boat match race with our two rivals on the remaining two legs. Tacks and gybes all crossing close. Sadly Dale Andar snuck ahead on the last beat, and led us over the finish - but by less than a boat length, Pajuelin well behind. Top two spots again to the Grand Soleil 37 and Farr 40.7, but we got the 3rd, Dale Andar 4th, Pajuelin 6th.
Race 3 Sunday morning saw even lighter winds. At one stage we weren't sure the race would start, but eventually it hit 7/8 knots and away we went. Again, not too much competition boat end so Jumbuck got a super start and just beat both our rivals to the top mark. Dale Andar gybed to work the right side heading offshore on the run, whilst we and Pajuelin worked the left. It was soon clear we had both got that wrong, so we bailed out and struggled to get offshore, getting stuck for a good few minutes by a wind hole created by the high Ifach headland. Could only bob along during that struggle and watch Dale Andar open out a big lead. Only consolation was our struggle to get offshore was correct, as we opened up an equally big gap twix us and Pajuelin who continued inshore and to the left.
End result was again top two spots went to the Grand Soleil and Farr 40.7, 3rd for Dale Andar, a 5th for us, and 9th for Pajuelin.
Sadly Race 4 got started, but was abandoned at 4 pm just as we were about to round the last upwind mark - sad as whilst it lasted, it was our best performance of the weekend.
We attacked Dale Andar on the start, pushed them over and forced them to restart, and then covered them really well for three of the four legs. Pajuelin being heavier still, was further back. We managed to lead both at every rounding and as the winds mid arvo went super light, our Genoa came into its own giving us more grunt than lots of others in the fleet. We kept it simple but apparently went the right way, and had opened up a huge lead on not just our rivals but the visiting Grand Soleil etc - and secured a real chance of a top podium spot - when the hooter was blasted by a zippy race committee rib, and the radio crackled to say they were abandoning that race!
So overall placing in the Rumbo Solidario saw the Grand Soleil 37, the Dufour 40 and Farr 40.7 take top spots.
Dale Andar 4th. Grrrrrrr. Jumbuck a credible 5th, and our mates on
Super weekend of racing. Great weather. Learnt lots. More highs than lows. The team sailed really well and Calpe hosted a very nice casual drinks party on the terrace. Big thanks to Sue, Kevin, Edo, Eric, Laurent, Jenny and Gabriel ( newbie pal of Laurent's who was sadly sick for the last two hours of Race4 ) for helping us push Jumbuck so well in challenging conditions - and not breaking anything and risking issues for our upcoming offshore event over tothe Balearic Islands.
This final race before the summer break is the Penon Ifach, also run by RCNC from Calpe over to Formentera - and then a return race - end May. Looking like we will go four or five up as its more likely we will see lighter winds this time of year, and that also gives us all a bit more room to sleep on what's frankly, quite a small hot boat.
Looking forward to it all, irregardless of result. Fingers crossed the patched Genoa holds for the two races, and can't wait to see the new one inAugust.
Palma Vela - Our Weekend Warriors
09 May 2017
Palma Vela - Afraid the crossed fingers didn't work......
09 May 2017
Palma Vela Video Link.
Please click the link above to get a flavour of the event.
We went to Mallorca still with fingers crossed, and certainly had fun participating in a great event. But we were out sailed and out classed in every one of our five races. Our team of 'weekend warriors' weren't at all phased to be mixing it with some of the worlds best sailors from 15 nations, but with only a 7th, an 8th, a 9th and two 10s, we had to accept a 10th overall in a fleet of only 11.
Not making excuses as we made mistakes, but with our ORC rating we were placed in Division 1 and not Division 2, and consequently our competitors were typically 37-40'. Most were Spanish flagged but included others from the UK, Germany, and Antigua.
The outstanding boat was the X37 Airlan Aermec with five bullets, closely followed by Vertigo Dos (Salona 37) and Zas Sailing (Gran Soleil 37), but a couple of Farr 40.7's sailing mid fleet invariably gave us issues. It was tough in our 35 footer mixing it with those well handled larger boats over the 1.5 / 2 mile short windward / leeward legs, and it didn't help that most of our rivals carried symmetric kites which advantaged them on the direct downwind legs, whilst we had no options but to sail angles......
Everyone had a challenge finding clear air in very busy waters. We had six divisions starting in sequence from one of the four start areas, all sailing similar courses. Then from three other start lines close by, we even had even larger yachts like the new Swan 50s and the TP52s at times sailing down through our bit of water.
Lots of ducking and diving even close on the marks, but it provided some awesome sights with some of those big boats fully powered up doing 10+ upwind - and sometimes a lot more down!
In our fleet we were simply out sailed by better sailors who took it all more seriously than we did. With short legs the margin for errors was not great. The fleet was always close and we were never out of touch, just never towards the front. In two of the races we were overlapped on bigger boats at the finish line, but even then the handicap differences were not great enough on such short races to see us get a decent result.
So no prizes for us this time round - but absolutely no complaints. The Palma Vela was a great event,the level of competition really high, and it's something I'd recommend other racers to try next year.
Super company and fun atmosphere both on and off the water, and whilst we didn't make the podium this time round, there were multiple videos of Jumbuck being run and rerun on the big screens (photo taken from one as you can see above).
We all enjoyed the racing and parties put on by RCNP who managed it all very professionally. The Wallys, TP52s and the new Swan 50s are stunning boats increadible well set up, and with 100% professional crews equally well sailed. Had the chance to look over several boats and think we've picked up a couple of new set up tricks to try on Jumbuck (ah ha - yes, even for such an old dog), so all round it was well worth coming over to Mallorca and taking part.
And with that new headsail now on order (thanks Sue) it's promising to give us better upwind speed, more height, with an improved rating, as well as easier trimming. ETA August.
Big thanks to Sue, Kevin, Edo, Marian, Eric and Laurent for a great effort on the water, the Club terrace, around the bars and restaurants, and in our crew quarters. You've merged into a super mob since we started racing Jumbuck less than a year ago, and I'm proud of you all. Our small band of pensionistas (average age 65) did good....
Look forward to doing it again with you next year.
Palma - here we come!
29 April 2017
The weathers been a little wet and wild these past few days, but promises to improve from Monday.
Tuesday will see Jumbuck, with all the boys (Edo, Kevin, Eric, Laurent and self) departing Calpe and hopefully completing the 140 mile passage over to Palma in one hit. I suspect the light forecast means we will motor sail, ETA early Wednesday.
Looking forward to enjoying the location. We know Palma quite well, having moored our last cruiser 'Swagman' there through 2005/6. Son Alex who has been working there recently says it hasn't changed much. Happy about that, as it only has good memories for me.
As I've mentioned before, we've rented a trendy old apartment near the City centre for the duration - and the plans to hire bikes to get to and from Real Club Nautico who are hosting the event.
The Palma Vela has multiple classes (Classics, Wallys, IRC, TP52s, J80s and ORC) all racing on courses around Palmas wide bay. We are in ORC Div 2 and have five races. Two short course races on both Friday and Saturday and a longer and I suspect coastal course, on Sunday.
There are parties organised at the regatta village every evening, and with so many competing boats I'm guessing they will be pumping. Should be fun wobbling 'home' on the bikes!
Sue and Marian fly over Wednesday to join with us in what we hope will be a successful event. We are still hunting out first 1st place!
On. On. With fingers crossed.
Ruta de la Sal 2017
17 April 2017
Zero Winds off Ibiza
It was one of those events where you think you've done almost everything right, but somehow you still don't get to pick up the trophy. A shame, but we tried our best.
We'd got away with a top start mid line at 1400 Thursday off Denia. Eric on the bow called it perfectly. On the line on the gun in clear air and up to speed in 8 / 10 knots of SE breeze. With a long line and big mid line sag, we were so well advanced that we only had to duck a single 75 footer as we tacked over to fulfill the plan of working the right side of the 55 mile first leg, as we all heading over towards the southern tip of Formantera.
Great crew trimming and working the correct side saw us one of the two best placed and it enabled us to hoist our Code 0 well before any other boat in the fleet. Apart from a large flyer already a mile ahead we were the most southerly placed boat so when the wind veered further to the south, we got the advantage. We maintained good boat speed all afternoon and took advantage of the easy going to rotate crew below for naps, knowing we needed to be fresh for the normally challenging later legs. We closed on Formenteras low south west cape towards dusk, when the winds eased, backed, then veered, then eased even more. We slowed, but the bigger boats to leeward went slower still. To be in very close company overtaking a Grand Soleil 50 in a 35 footer after 50 miles of racing felt pretty special.....
It seemed a lot of the bigger boats had sailed down with the back in onto the island west shore, and had really slowed up. We traded down from Code 0 to the much patched Genoa and put in a few tacks to stay a mile or so off Formenteras south west cape, and then continued east parallel with Formenteras southern cliffs but possibly one / two miles off. Took advantage of the renewed 4G cover to download the latest gribs so we could review our strategy for the remainer of the race, and at that time had the gribs been right, our ETA was looking to be 0900 Friday. Sadly it was not to be!
Staying off that southern coast worked for us. We were still the most southerly boat in the 87 boat fleet and could see the lights of multiple bigger boats beginning to edge eastward along the shoreline, but further out we were travelling faster. The wind veered 5 degrees maybe half way along, just allowing us to rehoist the Code 0, and our pace increased accordingly.
Beautiful night sail. Full moon illuminating the stunning cliff face, slipping along at 6 knots in 6 knots of breeze. And overtaking bigger boats.....
Maintained our distance off also at the south east cape of La Mola - and continued on to slide around maybe max 2 miles off watching those boat lights close inshore apparently coming to a standstill. We learned later the high cliffs created an absolute windless patch which we missed completely.
Gradually curving NE we traded up to our A2 and finding a building southerly breeze, also deployed the staysail, and were soon hooning along on starboard gybe making almost 10 knots before 17 knots of breeze. Nothing nicer that moving away at pace when others are parked up behind. We set off chasing the three or four leading lights ahead on the northern horizon.
That third leg was to take us up past the small islet of Tagomago onto the north east tip of Ibiza is about 25 miles, and our gribs suggested we should have gone north east, gybed early and gone left into the 'bay' formed by Formentera and Ibiza, before finally gybing back north up towards Ibiza. But we were moving out so well from the corner that we just kept going out. Possibly a costly mistake.
It was after we gybed onto port 90 minutes on, maybe 15 miles up, the wind and our pace began to disappear. Estimate we were 5 miles short and due south of Tagomago when we finally drifted to a standstill over a moonlit glassy sea. 0 knots wind speed, 0 knots boat speed, and only .5 or 1 knot of northerly flowing current to ease our pain.
Unfortunately, those super light conditions continued to dog us for the following 10 hours.
Dead flat mirror like sea and a SE wind that varied twix 0 and 2 knots all day. We held our own ok, only being passed by two other yachts through the night and next morning, but it was all hard work. Not sure the misshaped Genoa did us too many favours, but a new ones moved right up the priority list!
The earlier leading boats had apparently got around Tagomago and the NE Ibizan cape before it all died. Lucky lucky them.
Friday turned into a hot frustrating day.
Sails up. Sails down. Head shoreward. Head offshore. Code 0. A2. Genoa. Then repeat. Then repeat. Then repeat. But essentially I think it was those who ignored the lack of wind and pointed their boats westward to simply sail the current who did the best.
The boat that eventually won our division passed us doing just that.
We did what we could to grab any whiff of breeze we came across, but it wasn't until Friday afternoon, as we'd just about drifted the whole length of Ibiza heading westward for our finish off San Antonio, that we saw a line of pressure coming up from behind - and carrying along a huge mob of boats! It was like watching a line of charging animals coming straight for us......and we weren't moving!
Fortunately we got the first whiff of breeze before they reached us, and quickly picked up speed to then catch, joust with, and overtake a Division 2 Dufour 44 that had been just ahead all morning. We held them and everyone else off under the A2 kite to zip across the finish at around 15:30 - doing 8+knots before what developed into a continually building breeze..........
It meant those who were at one time simply miles behind, arrived less than one hour after us! And the leading 3 boats all got in three hours ahead!
So just a tad frustrating.
But as we discussed in the bar after, if there were 100 'tasks' we had to do well in that race, I actually think we did 95 of them to perfection.
Simply super crew work. No one ever stopped trying. No one even took a sleep despite being sent below for a nap. A brilliant start. Great sailing first and most of second leg. We just lost it on the third. Or rather it lost us......😐
But we learn. Just maybe had we followed the gribs and gybed inshore up the east of Formentera we might have ended up in more current closer to Ibizas shore, to help us round Tagomago and Ibizas north east cape?
Had we enjoyed 10 minutes more pressure up the east coast then we might have made the top corner and be able to enjoy the breeze that apparently the earlier boat got north of Ibiza?
And again, once we had definitely lost the wind, maybe less chasing of wind patches along that northern shore - and a more direct drifting route just pointing Jumbuck west and sticking with that, could have seen us improve on our result?
But whatever. It was a yacht race. Things happen. Every other boat had the same weather. And some of them managed it better than us.
Our team sailed really well and the boat went just as fast as we could make it go. But we simply didn't go fast enough to carry breeze the whole race, or pick up a trophy.
Upshot was we ended up 5th in Division 3 - and 12th overall. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th placed all came in behind us.
And a final sucker punch. Had they listed us in Division 1 or 2 (we are nramally Div 2) then our time would have awarded us a 3rd place in either of those Divisions! So double definitely, a very frustrating result.......
But it was a good party in San Antonio.
As expected, this pumpy Ibizan port proved a great place for post race R & R. It was my birthday on the Friday so not 100% clear on when we got back to the boat......obviously a great night out. Word has it I fell asleep over my restaurant meal. 😨
Spent Saturday day tidying up, relaxed salad lunch, PM siesta before hitting the town for the prizegiving. Alcohol-wise, Saturday evening was just as bad as Friday (maybe even worse), but at least I remember. It was 4am as we left the last bar and crashed back onto Jumbuck!
Sad bit was, we had to be up again at 6 to begin the 9 hour flat water slide back home to Calpe. Even that was eventful with a huge pilot whale breaching close alongside to take a peek at us! Wonderful.
So huge thanks to all the team - Rob, Kevin, Eric and Laurent for a brilliant weekend away. You all sailed like heroes - and partied like Vikings. Well done all.