Ruta de la Sal
02 April 2018 | Ibiza
This 120 miler is organised locally by RCN Denia and CN San Antoni. Their course took our fleet out eastward from Denia aiming to round both Formentera and Ibiza Islands anticlockwise and eventually finish at San Antonio on Ibizas NW shore.
La Ruta de la Sal celebrates the historic route of Spanish trading vessels which ran out to Ibiza to collect salt, back in the days when it was an expensive commodity.
It's an important event on the local calander, having three fleets all combined to end on the same finish line. There were 85 starters from Denia, a further 85 registered from Barcelona, and another 35 boats starting from Mallorca.
We went out six up and I was lucky enough to have my two sons Alex and Robert fly in to join with Eric Degerland, Rob Mitchell and 'Blade' skipper Barry McCrae. Together they made a really skilled team.
Winds were very light for our start at 1400 on Thursday 29th and truly, didn't favour us for the first two hours as we kind of drifted and gently beat SE. We have just re-rated Jumbuck using our small AP headsails, and whilst I like the better handicap, the APs are not as effective as our Genoa would have been for those conditions.
However, later in the afternoon the winds gently built and veered, so that four hours on we were able to fly our Code 0 - and it's extra horsepower saw us beginning to take time out of the boat ahead.
Most of those had secured a four / five mile leap early on in the race by working the Denia coastline whilst the rest of the fleet, us included, sailed a little further off. But by early evening we had all settled heading ESE and our competitors were well in our gunsights. By the time darkness fell, with winds now building to 13 knots from the south, we surged onward as we reached across aiming to leave both of Formenteras southern capes to port.
The start of a great night sail as the lighthouses on the bottom of Formentera guided us in. A brilliant full moon provided super viz on deck and we enjoyed dicing in close company with some substantially bigger boats all trying hard to pass us as we converged on Formentera. With our ability to surf on a building sea, none did.
Something mesmeric in hearing white water building behind you, up comes the stern, a smooth pump on sails and helm, and off downhill you slide with the white stuff tumbling just behind. Wonderful. We were all fully focussed and enjoying the ride.
As the fleet approached Formeteras second cape where the course bent north, most ahead simply turned and ran off northward. We studied our competitors in front (using AIS on the plotter) and could soon see the outcome. They were all slowly loosing speed. As we suspected the high cliffs of that second cape seemed to throw a big wind hole running a fair way north, so we traded up to our A2 and adopted a more ENE course sailing shy, taking us out and around that wind shadow.
The correct decision, as the winds out east soon notched up to 15/16 knots allowing us to eventually sail deeper and faster than those closer inshore. We enjoyed creaming along with staysail inside the A2, making 10/12 knots SOG - whilst some of those further west slowed to less than 2 knots. We gybed over after an hour, and fortune then saw the winds take the forecasted back, so our revised heading took us directly towards our next turning point off Isla Tagomago, near the top end of Ibizas NE coast. Happy days.
Simply super trimming by the team along with focussed helming saw us draw level and pass every one of our Div B competitors on this 25 mile run. It was fabulous having Barry as a 2nd helm and he continued to drive us up the overall fleet demonstrating considerable skill (he had never helmed Jumbuck before) allowing me to join Eric below for a bit of naviguessing.
Traditionally the zone we were now approaching, up near the top NE corner of Ibiza, is where this race can be won or dlost. When the winds in the south / south west the very high cliffs north of the islet of Tagomago always creat a difficult wind zone that runs for maybe 6 miles across the fleets course and extends well offshore. The choices usually are to go close in, expecting the wind to die but being inshore able to ride the gentle counter current and glide through the zone, go mid distance off and take a risk of zero winds or bullet gusts (whatever comes down off the cliffs), or go further off and hopefully retain some wind - but sailing a much longer distance and also bucking the southerly current.
Eric and I decided on a route that took us between options one and two. Maybe 3 miles short of Tagomago we first saw the lit boats ahead sitting upright and making slower progress, so as planned we traded down to our Code 0 early, and were therefore able to slide into the lighter airs whilst maintaining some speed.
Surreal bit of sailing for an hour or so with us making 4/5 knots in only 4 knots of breeze over a mirror like moonlit sea with Ibiza and Tagomago looming up to our left. Our progress clearly confused lots of the bigger yachts ahead as we caught up and slipped past lots. Sometimes within metres. We never once lost our momentum.
During our naviguessing session, Eric and I had downloaded the latest weather GRIBs and reviewed a forecast showing the winds veering and strengthening just as we should have hit the top right corner, but it changed a lot earlier and the wind strength was significantly greater than predicted. By the time we had our first 25 knot gust we had settled back down to our AP, but soon found ourselves thrashing to windward along our course towards the final top NE corner feeling more than a tad overpowered.
The winds at that time were manageable but wave set was something else. The short sharp confused seas caused by the waves and swell bouncing back off the cliffs gave us a surface resembling a wet egg box. Bumpy as with lots and lots of white water. All the kind of stuff that really slows a 35 footer trying to go uphill.
We had to live through a short tack back into towards Ibiza as we did a bareheaded change from our light AP to the heavy, but stupid I know, we hadn't rigged a reefing line, so continued to struggle with the full main as we pushed onward, upward and round the corner to then begin the bash westward.
On that five hour beat back along the top of the island, the radio chattered with retirement after retirement. I've actually never raced hard upwind in such seas before, and have to say it was significantly hard work. Still got the aches and pains to prove it.
The winds stayed strong. Maximum wind speed we saw was 32 knots but other boats close around recorded 40+. Felt more like 80! And we did it all with a full main! Top job by Barry who had taken the main trim, keeping us balanced with minimal flogging. But it would have been really nice to have that reef in!
It was a bright dawn but cold and very wet. The crew all hung onto the top rail as Jumbuck bashed crashed and lurched her way through whatever gaps we could find in the confused seas, but we often got it wrong and found the top deck totally covered in green water. Jolly good job we had an open transom as frequently I found myself helming with water flow up close by my knees!
Bouncy madness. But far too dangerous to send someone up on a harness to put one in, and practically it appeared by the lack of competitors around, we were still doing well.
Kept our trim up as we mixed it along that beat through the night and as dawn broke, with Slainte - a local gun Salona 37. They sensibly had the reef tucked in and looked to be having a more comfortable ride than we were, but we continued to trade tacks and positions until eventually both of us less than 50 metres apart, were able to lay the final cape before both bearing off and reaching down to the finish off San Antonio.
They crossed the line 60 seconds ahead, but owed us 20 minutes on handicap. We crossed at 09:38, and the horizon behind looked pretty empty. We felt we had really achieved something by simply finishing. The seas off San Antonio were white, confused, and angry. I'm glad we didn't have to do another hour out in that.
And the reason for the bare horizon was that around 60 of the fleet simply couldn't handle the conditions, and had retired to run back for shelter in Ibiza town.
Of the 25 that did finish, we secured a 2nd place in our Division (behind another local gun 'Cafe del Mar') and also a 3rd place overall the fleet behind both Cafe del Mar and the 50 foot 'Condor'.
What a super set of results considering our start and that full main........
Shower, shave, short siesta, then Friday night we hit the town. Good night out and it's not often nowadays I get the chance to get drunk with my two boys. Will defo do that more often.
Alex had to fly out Saturday early, but the rest of the day and the presentation evening continued in the same vein as the winds fair howled outside and turned San Antonios normally placid anchorage into a mill race. Got back in the sack maybe 3 am cuddling our two trophies.....
Big big thanks once more to a great crew showing considerable skill to give us a great result. In the photo about L to R are self, Rob Allison, Rob Mitchell, Barry McCrae and Eric Degerland. Well done everyone!
And well done J boats for building a 35 footer that could handle those conditions so well, North Sails for building an apparently indistructible mainsail, and Olimpic Sails for modifying our APs with vertical battens allowing us to gain a better rating. It all contributed to the end result.
Trofeo Presidente and 5 Clubs Altea
12 March 2018 | Altea, Cost Blanca
Enjoyed a blustery weekend of racing off Altea taking part in the Trofeo Presidente and 5 Clubs series' run by Club Nautico Altea.
At Sunday's presentation we collected two nice trophies having achieved a 2nd place in Division B for the Trofeo Presidente, and a 3rd place in Sunday's 5 Clubs.
Day one saw us complete two windward leeward courses in SSW winds, in the morning averaging 12 knots, but in the afternoon it was gusting to 30.
Think it was one of our slow learning days, as it was pretty obvious after the first beat that the shoreside right hand was well favoured. Those boats that worked that side in the 3 mile long beats saw a divergent breeze close by the coast that allowed them to lift along the shore, then beat out into another lift on the alternate board heading out to the windward mark. Our rivals Pajuelin (Salona 37) and Aurora (Farr 36.7) did just that and opened up a sizeable lead.
We got some of that back on the offwind run, to round the leeward mark in front of Aurora but still well behind Pajuelin, but for some silly reason, we continued to work the middle of the course for the second leg, meaning our finishing order remained as it was and with handicaps applied, Pajeulin 1st, Jumbuck 2nd, Aurora 3rd.
Race 2 saw us swop out our Genoa for our heavy AP as the weather developed. Did much better upwind but still trailed Pajuelin at the windward mark. Aurora close behind.
On the run we smoked, got right back on Pajuelins stern, but then fell back on the final windward leg and couldn't recover what we lost. Results once handicaps applied Pajuelin 1sr, Aurora 2nd, Jumbuck 3rd.
Sunday's 5 Clubs (which also forms the third race in the Trofeo President) was a coastal affair, taking us back and forth across Altea Bay. Winds were topping 15 gusting 20 as we lined up for a crowded start, and I was sure there were multiple boats OCS - including Jumbuck. We found a slot and turned back to restart - but no one else did - and none were pinged after! Bit frustrating.
Anyway, once we got going Jumbuck flew in the fresh conditions, both upwind and down. She didn't fly fast enough to catch Pajuelin, but we were less than 500 metres behind her by the finish, and right up among the tail end of the Class A fleet. Made a few mistakes on the way round (plus that restart) and survived a protest from. 40.7 that didn't accept we'd got an inside overlap, to get a 3rd place in the 5 Clubs.
But we've also learnt that in Jumbuck can go faster upwind in 15 knots using our APs than using our Genoa. So will need to review what handicap advantage we might get were we to use the APs for every race. It's a tad frustrating that we have a higher rating under ORC than we would have against our rivals under IRC, and that our rivals appear to have the lowest rating of almost every boat in their class. So. Bit of handicapping magic needed to get it all back to a level playing field.
Overall - Super weekend, and our crew of Rob Mitchel, Gary Illingworth, Edo Volker, Eric Degerland and Kevin Moss proved once more why I love sailing with them. Top jobs all round. Well done everyone!
Winners can be Grinners - XXVI Trofeo Carritxal and 5 Clubs La Vila
25 February 2018 | El Campello, Spain
It was a shame they didn't accept our 2017 ORC Certificate for the first of this seasons 5 Clubs at Moraira, but it only meant we went out to do the second race in the series with a little more focus.
This race took us south from Villajojosa, about 30 miles down the coast from Calpe. We took a days training session last Thursday and moved Jumbuck down to La Vila, and headed out on Saturday in very light conditions.
Upping our game even meant we eased off our rig tension for the days event. A coastal run from off La Vila a further 15 miles south to end at Club Nuatic Campello. The two clubs also overlay this 5 Clubs event with the Trofeo Carritxal, meaning we had the coastal race down Saturday and a complex almost circular race set for Sunday.
Got a good start in Saturday's 5 Clubs, short bash to windward then a long but shy run. Worked out well for our assymetrics and we carried the large A2 shy at 120/130 degrees right down to the rounding mark off El Campello, and the surged to the finish as we ran deeper still. That got us a first place in Division B for the 5 Clubs, but as we were only minutes behind the larger division A yachts, also saw us placed as the leading boat in the first part of the Trofeo Carritxal (which is calculated over the whole fleet).
All new 2018 certificates have been reworked to a revised formula, and whereas last year where we felt we were severely disadvantaged in our rating against bigger boats especially those tha carry symmetrical kites' this year, it's apparently changed in our favour. Aurora (First 36.7) finished near 2 minutes ahead, but was placed behind us, and Pajuelin (Salona 37) was less then 2 minutes behind, which last season would have see her placed higher. I did check with race committee that they'd done the calculations correctly, and was assured all was in order.
So a nice drink or two in Campellos tidy little rural marina and clubhouse, and off for an enjoyable evening watching SCOTLAND THE BRAVE give England a good trashing in the six nations. God. Went to bed feeling feeling satisfied.
Sunday saw fresher winds from the ESE and a complex course send us windward, then directly leeward, then a reach out around a fish farm, lengthy run inshore, long cracked beat back to the farm, round it again once more to run inshore, then beat to the finish off the Club. Good job we did have bigger boats to follow, as not sure we would have got it right had we been leading.
We did it all well. With the eased rig we had much more power upwind and easily legged it with some bigger boats, but upshot was we were very close to the leaders by the finish and also achieved first place on day two, meaning we were awarded overall 1st for the regatta.
Great result. Just as long as they've got the ratings right. If they have an we retain the difference, we will be hard to catch for the rest of the season!
Well done to all the crew, shown above left to right Rob Mitchell (bow), Gary Illingworth (mast), Kevin Moss (trim), Eric Degerland (nav and strings), me, Edo Volker (main) and Nigel Robinson (trim).
And maybe a big thanks to ORC for sorting out their rating system!
Looking forward to the next event, but we will all be missing Nigel (who flys back to work in UK shortly). He's added a lot to our performance and look forward to seeing his return after the summer.
Jumbuck - 2017 5 Clubs - Champion Division B
28 January 2018 | Moraira, Spain
The photo doesn't quite capture how cold and wet we were, following the first race outing for 2018, the 5 Clubs event run by CN Moraira.
We had two major sail handling foo foos in that event, having the Code 0 partially unfurl as we shaped up for our start, and then later a huge wild broach when close by the Penon Ifach headland the tack line clutch failed to hold, and our A3 kite reset itself a good 10 metres away from the boat. Never had so much water in the cockpit ever before!
But none of really mattered, as CN Moraira hadn't accepted the validity of our ORC Certificate and told us we wouldn't be in any prizes even if we got in miles ahead! Bit frustrating as last years cert specified it was valid to 1/2/2018, but we weren't the only boat that didn't feature in the results.
The day got very fresh, winds topped 30 knots, but apart from those two sail handing errors we cheerfully bashed and crashed our way down from Moraira to Campomanes and back, following the fleet and the eventual winners. Actually learnt a little more about our main trim, and had the boat going really well upwind using full main and heavy weather AP headsail.
Our crew photo (L to R) in CN Moraira shows Nigel Robinson, Robert Mitchell, Chris Debour, Kevin Moss, self, Eric Degerland, Sue and Edo Volker alongside Karina representing the 5 Clubs team who presented us with the trendy 2017 Champions trophy.
Our crew did a fabulous job last year allowing us to receive this trophy, and it's going to be a big challenge to repeat the act for 2018.
We will certainly try our best.......
Jumbuck Year End Party + Trofeo Navidad, Altea
20 December 2017
There were 19 of us who met up at the Montevideo Restaurant in Benitatxell on Wednesday 13th December to celebrate our season end, to give me he chance to thank everyone for their input, and share out some 2017 crew trophies to reward those who've done the real tough jobs on the boat.
Top trimmer this year went to Kevin Moss, top mainsheet to Edo Volker, and top bowman to Eric Degerland. All good sailors who've gone a bit above and beyond in the past season helping to move Jumbuck up to that top spot in Division 2 for the 5 Clubs Series. It was nice to recall individual memories and hand back the trophies awarded to Jumbuck, suitably re-engraved with the guys names. Truly lovely blokes to both sail with.
Unfortunately didn't get a shot of Kevin and his trophy, but Eric and Edo are shown above.
New crew have also added their input this year. Rob Mitchell and Chris Debour both vieing for the bow spot next season, and Nigel Robinson guest trimming back in the cockpit. All have yet to earn their spurs and get a trophy but there's always next year lads......
We've now picked the 19 events Jumbuck will enter through 2018 and we will be looking to add another heavyweight crew member so we can load that rail with the 650kgs needed to get upwind faster and manage the sail handling on short course races. That, along with some focus on boat maintenance to get kit working smoother, plus further boat handling sessions each week, should combine to see us raise our game and hopefully defend our spot against what I suspect will be even fiercer competition in the coming year.
Our principal opponents Dale Andar (Dufour 36S) and Paguelin (Salona 37) have both just invested in new composite sails plus we've also now got Aurora (First 34.7) arrived on the local scene. All are well sailed, and all have super ratings.......
Sad to say our own sail and boat handling let us down last weekend in testing conditions for the Trofeo Navidad.
Saturday / Sunday 16/17th saw Jumbuck line up in a combined Division 1 and 2 regatta for Alteas annual Xmas event. Fresh but variable conditions both days saw us off on a 16 mile coastal pursuit race on Saturday - where we secured a 4th spot behind a First 50, a Grand Soleil 46 and Paguelin the Salona 37. It was always close, with the four boats frequently changing positions along the course as the wind came and went. We could have done better and my wrong sail selection (Code 0 over A2) on the last run didn't do us any favours.
We really missed Sue's deft handling in the pit the following day as Sunday's two windward / leewards was run in even fresher winds. Again close racing using small AP on first race and Genoa on the second, only saw us able to secure the same positions, mainly because of a booboo in start timing and then later with sail handling. A shame for the team. Overall for the event it meant 4th spot, one slot down from last years result.
It would have been frustrating if we didn't know what we did wrong and still getting the 4ths, but our errors were pretty clear and we all know that with more practice and a full crew, we will do better on future events. So it's truly on, on for 2018.
That commences with the 5 Clubs Opening race at Moraira on Sunday 28th January. Bring it on......
Autumn 5 Clubs and Pata Negra - Campomanes
11 December 2017
CN Campomanes ran the last of the 2017 5 Clubs events and merged it into their own three day Pata Negra Regatta.
Always popular, not least because Campomanes has such a classy club, we went out with the primary aim of securing enough points in the 5 Clubs race to ensure we would become Division B Champions for the 2017 9 race series.
Pleased to let you know we achieved our goal, and can now look forward to picking up a Series Champion trophy for 2017 when next years series commences in January at Moraira.
Friday's race started in light fluky winds. We got away well, seven up, and slid upwind from Campomanes towards the Altea fish farm, our first rounding. Did OK upwind, arriving even before some of the 46 footers, only then to hear that they'd abandoned the race. Lucky for those we had left behind, but not for us!
Saturday saw moderate winds and a similar course, and it turned into a competitive Division B race with four of our quickest yachts frequently swopping positions as we worked out to a windward mark before then reaching off across the bay. That lengthy tight reach saw our Code 0 gain us the lead until the leeward mark, when a furling issue allowed Dale Andar to get back in front. Level pegging then on a broader reach back across the bay looked good despite having Aurora and Paguelin on our tail, but when the winds backed and strengthened, our genoa proved to be our undoing.
We found ourselves just a tad over-canvassed as we beat upwind into 25+ knot winds but made the final rounding mark and after Eric had executed a simply perfect kiwi hoist in strong winds, we screamed off downhill for the finish. Dale Andar with her symmetrical kite still got in a couple of minutes ahead, just enough to give her a first spot. Aurora, a new to the circuit but well sailed Farr 36.7 crossed maybe a minute behind us, enough with her better rating to give her the second. And Jumbuck got a third. Our old running mates Paguelin got a forth.
So with low points already picked up over the previous 8 X 5 Clubs events, that 3rd place result was enough to cement the 5 Clubs 2017 series for us.
Job done. 😎. Well done everybody!
Sunday saw the fresh winds set in, so we went out mob handed having traded down from Genoa to the heavy small AP for what was supposed to be two short windward leeward courses.
The first race saw gusts close to 30 knots and whilst we stormed to windward with our 8 on the rail and handled the first off wind leg well, we lost our single kite halliard bashing up the second beat......
Didn't think we would hold off our rivals down the last run as we had no option but to sail real deep under white sails only for the three miles to the finish. Fortunately the winds were still 25+ so we weren't going slow, and as gusts came through we had both Aurora and Paguelin broaching wildly behind us. Suspect with our small asymmetric we would have handled that leg ok under kite, but we managed to keep our spot and lead the Division B boats over the finish.
For his penance, we then hoisted Nigel up a wildly swaying rig to get his halliard back!
But with at least four other yachts having damaged multiple kites on that first race it wasn't a surprise when they abandoned the planned second race and sent us all back in to join a dockside party. In the sheltered marina the sun continued to beat down - great way to spend a December Sunday......
The results for the three day Pata Negra series is calculated across all boats, with trophies for 1st to 6th. Eventually they got it all worked out, with the strong conditions Sunday giving the bigger boats most of the prizes. Aurora secured a 3rd overall. We just managed to squeak the 6th, so look forward to collecting that additional trophy at next Saturday's prizegiving party.
All in all, great long weekend on the water, and TWO trophies, and again we learnt lots! Every day in every way, we get a little better!
Our crew of Edo, Kevin, Sue, Eric, Rob, Chris Debour, guests Chris Engles and Nigel Robinson were exceptional. It's been great this year seeing our mob develop into an almost faultless race crew, especially as they are pretty good at the parties too.
And for sure having reconsidered the smaller APs in action and having sailed for the first time with a full 600 kg on the rail, weve learnt for future events to definately swop down at exactly 15 knots - and go out mob handed more often. All invaluable stuff for continued improvement.
Thanks once more to our honed pensionista team (!) we can all look forward to our Jumbuck Xmas bash, next weeks two day Trofeo Navidad at Altea, and then next year - all with anticipation.