Road Trip to Patagonia

Published on February 1st, 2016

Two J/105 teams from the St. Francis Yacht Club led by Bruce Stone and Ralph Silverman journeyed south to Patagonia, Chile to compete in the prestigious Regata de Chiloe 2016 on January 23-30, an event held every other year in the Chiloe archipelago, framed by volcanoes to the east and Pacific Ocean to the west. Bruce submits this report…

The regatta is run by the Chilean Navy under the auspices of Club Nautico Oceanico de Chile, and with 8 days of racing might be one of the longest in duration. Ending up in a different small port each night, it places a premium on navigation and also juggling shoreside logistics.

Aside from the race committee’s ocean-going patrol boats and helicopters, over 50 private support boats (for meals and lodging) followed the fleet, and had their own subtle competition, trying to get to the next port for a great anchorage prior to the arrival of the 70 racing boats. Each was at anchor with hot showers and a late lunch ready for whenever their team arrived, the earliest being 4:30 pm and the latest 8:30 pm.

Per Chilean custom, shoreside events or dinner on-board generally began around 10 pm, therefore racing did not start until between noon and 2 pm. There were two days of windward-leeward buoy racing and five days of 25-30 mile point-to-point racing, with the courses winding around islands and testing skill in avoiding shoals and the salmon fishing farms along the shoreline.

The Chilean J/105 fleet is strong and growing, with just over 30 boats racing, and more expected to buy boats in the next 1-2 years. Members expressed satisfaction with the size and cost of the boat, and the fact that they could race with family members on board, as did every J/105 in this regatta except for the Navy cadets.

This week offered an extremely difficult combination of light air and strong current, placing a premium on local knowledge, and we were in fourth place going into the last day. Our team on the chartered J/105 “Patagonia Virgin”, supported by owner Santiago Said, then found our wheels in perfect San Francisco Bay conditions of 14-18 knot winds, scoring a third and then a bullet to take the top spot on the podium.

While done and dusted, we are already plotting our return.

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