Attrition begins for slow Cabo Race

Published on March 12th, 2017

Newport Beach, CA (March 12, 2017) – The biennial Newport to Cabo International Yacht Race got underway with 19 monohull entries starting yesterday and the 3 multihulls departing today. No speed records will be broken as a high pressure system will be dominating the 800 nm course along the Baja California Peninsula.

Two teams, the Andrews 68 Condor and the Bakewell-White 100 Rio100, retired today to San Diego due to the slow progress. Peter Isler files this onboard report today at 1500 from 40 miles south of the Mexican Border:

Greetings from the Santa Cruz 70 Holua! It’s been a light, slow, foggy race so far. We’ve only done 100nm since the start (the race ticks in at over 800 nm) and are 25 hours into the race. The scratch boat in the fleet – Rio100 has already pulled the plug and turned around – motoring past us this morning.

With a full moon – migrating whales and a green coastal plain thanks to recent rains – we were hoping for some good visuals but it’s been pea soup (under 100 meters vis) fog until mid-evening last night when it thinned out a just bit – so we really have not seen any competitors since just after the start until just 15 mins ago – when the Andrews 63 Medicine Man and Santa Cruz 70 Catapult appeared out of the haze offshore of us.

A couple of Grey Whales have come by… one was “towing” a tourist boat with a really loud loudhailer announcing every time a fluke ruffled the surface. We’ve had quite a few visits from dolphin pods – always a cheery sight – and especially nice since we’ve been doing a lot of frustrating light air sailing so far.

It’s been light air upwind, reaching and (a little) running – sometimes all within a few minutes. Mix that with a one meter swell and you get the idea… tough sailing where the helmsman and trimmers really have to be focused. The drifter has had plenty of hours put on it.

For a race that we expected to get us into running sails pretty quick, the weather scene has deteriorated with high pressure killing the wind near the coast. In “weather model world” – the very light air that we are experiencing has started to appear (finally – a bit late) in the GRIBS.

Unfortunately, with the wind so darn flukey and shifty, it’s impossible to validate any single model and say “I trust this and will base tactics on this”. And when the wind goes to nothing – its hard to implement even the most well thought out tactics.

In our “sled” class – Pyewacket and Grand Illusion have set the pace – both boats sailing really well and fast and built a 5+ mile lead on us. We just “reeled” back third place sled – Catapult – that had played the offshore track that isn’t paying so well right now. We expect another long night of “night fighting” and hope to raise our game a little bit.. it doesn’t take much when you are striving to keep from “losing the bow” when the boat speed drops to 0.00!

But its nice to get offshore again and get into the flow of the watch system. It looks like we’ll get a extra “bonus day” or two at this rate!

Pre-start reports by Peter Isler and Keith Magnussen.

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