Islands Race Offers Stormy Ride
Published on March 12th, 2016
San Diego, CA (March 12, 2016) – The start of the 2016 Islands Race yesterday for 23 boats featured sunny skies and southerly wind at just 4 knots off the coast of San Pedro. However, the front that the Organizing Authority and Race Committee were anticipating ripped through the fleet not long after the start.
It was this forecast that led to the decision to opt for the fleet to sail the coastal course (80 nm) to the finish in San Diego rather than the longer offshore option (129.5 nm).
Lighter winds followed the initial squall, then built steadily as the backside of the front filled in. Smaller sea states with 6-8’ swells and significant wind chop marked the hours following the start. Winds varied between 20 and 30 knots with gusts.
“It rained hard,” remarked Stuart Bannatyne from the Andrews 70 Pyewacket. “It was a point-to-point race, yet the way the wind was shifting made it really challenging. But it was that kind of challenge that made it an enjoyable race.”
Mighty Merloe, the 60-foot ocean trimaran which was first to finish (03:50:35) yesterday, had their share of struggles as well. “What stood out to me the most was passing by the Oil Islands while we were going really fast – about 34 knots in a swell,” recalled crew Paul Allen. “I was concerned about the big steel mooring cans for the rig service boats so I was on the lookout for those. To avoid one, we couldn’t run down because of the rig, and we couldn’t steer up or we would have flipped!”
There was plenty of other race gear casualties though, which included the J/88 BlueFlash. “We shredded two sails because of a bad broach,” said Sean Grealish. “We were sailing at 18 knots which is double what the J/88 is supposed to do. It would have been nice to be on a larger boat.”
Others weren’t as daunted by the squalls. Jeff Brown onboard the J/65 Maitri thoroughly enjoyed the rough weather and had a different idea on how to best cope with bumpy conditions and damaged gear. “This was our first time on the new boat and we were having an absolute blast. We were eating lasagna and salad right when our first kite blew up. So then we started going 10 knots with our main alone all while still enjoying our lasagna.”
For some, the weather and conditions served as a great learning opportunity. There was a collection of younger crew members from the Newport Sea Base onboard the IMX-38, Apprentice, who have competed in the Islands Race prior, but never before in such challenging conditions. “A major part of the race that stood out to me was when the first storm hit us,” noted crew Catherine Reynolds. “We weren’t sure what to do at first, but it was great to work together and figure out what to do.”
“I think the Organizing Authority did an exceptional job with excellent leadership,” said Event chair Wayne Terry. “We appreciated the patience from competitors as we waited to watch forecasts and tried to make the best decision.”
Two boats, Checkmate (Peterson 50) and Medicine Man (Andrews 63), retired from the race with gear failure. Chris Hermans’s Rogers Vauna 46 won PHRF overall and Roy Disney’s Andrews 70 Pyewacket won ORR overall.
Source: Emily Willhoft, SDYC