Cabo Race: Bar Stools and Cold Beverages

Published on March 14th, 2017

(March 14, 2017) – For the six remaining teams that were either stubborn or avoiding political theatre, their perseverance in the biennial Newport to Cabo International Yacht Race has finally been rewarded. Gone is the drifter that sent the other 16 starters packing, with enough wind now to keep sails full and odometers turning.

“It’s all in the rear view mirror now plus it’s getting warmer every mile south,” said Peter Isler last night from the Santa Cruz 70 Holua. “What we now have is what we were expecting – a light to moderate air run to Cabo – not the drifter we had.”

Here is Peter’s report today at 17:00 with 384 nm to the finish:


The last 24 hours has been great sailing – especially after living through the first couple of days of drifting. Unfortunately the monohull fleet is down to 4 boats, but today we’ve enjoyed “watching” the two big trimarans come steaming past in the fog.

The MOD70 Phaedo3 was first to “play through” – we saw her coming up on the tracker and AIS (these boats keep their AIS on all the time – a practice that I think should be required in all races like this – simply for safety). They were a couple of miles to leeward so we said “hi” on the VHF radio.

The ORMA 60 Mighty Merloe was a few hours later while I was sleeping but had given the guys on watch the heads up to watch the AIS – and the big tri from San Diego came by so close that they had to bear away to miss us. On board Holua, Bill Erkelens got on the radio and apologized to MM for “going slow in the fast lane” as Merloe ripped by doing almost 20kts while we were grazing along at 8kts.

Both Merloe and Holua share the challenge of trying dig back from a bit of a hole from the first half of the race. In our class, sistership Grand Illusion continues to sail well and has been holding a ten mile plus lead for most of the last day. However, that lead has eroded a bit lately as we play the shifts and the sea breeze transition zone offshore of the first bit of land that we’ve seen the whole race: Island Natividad off Punta Eugenia.

That sighting of land – about 10 miles distant – was all our mascot pigeon needed after living aboard for most of the last 24 hours (occasionally he would fly around in the fog). Our friend set sail for shore – at least we hope he made it – but only after stocking up on his favorite food – peanuts.

It was quite interesting having to look out for a bird while racing. After every jibe we’d get back in the groove sailing and then “check on the bird” to make sure it had hung on. The pigeon got more and more adventurous walking around the deck saying hi to everyone (begging for peanuts). The aft hatch to the interior clearly captured its imagination but never could get the gumption to jump down below.

There is definitely a bit of a malaise around the boat after it (named “Bird Brain”) flew away the last time. There had been a couple long trips away (over an hour) only to return – but it’s been longer than that now. There’s still some bread crumbs scattered on transom scoop – along with the water bowl.

Back to the racing, ship medic Mark Sims just removed the last stitch from the bottom of my foot. I think the foot will survive! We are all completely into the flow of the watch system (4 hours on, 3 hours off for everyone but me – I “float”). We’ve been sailing with a spinnaker for the last 24 hours – just like the brochure. No big surfs – but at least we are moving and hoping that the second half of the race is faster than the first half.

We have our work cut out for us as the tracker currently shows Grand Illusion opening up on us again with the margin now over 8 miles. Considering the first race party was planned for tonight at Baja Cantina, this tighter race will distract us from how far we still are from bar stools and cold beverages.

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Background: Twenty-two teams entered the biennial Newport to Cabo International Yacht Race which takes the fleet from Newport Beach, CA south along the Baja California Peninsula to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Monohulls (19) started the 792 nm race on March 11 with the multihull fleet (3) starting March 12.

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