Nothing like a warm shower after 5 days to make you feel like a new man!
As you may know, we missed out on 3rd place by a few minutes. The crew worked extremely hard and sailed what I thought was a near perfect race. I likewise put a huge amount of effort into this race.
The race started out with lovely conditions racing out of Newport. Of course, the forecast was ominous, but improving, and about 30% of the fleet did not start, including such well prepared boats as the 2 Navy entries. With lighter winds on the west side of the course and better currents, the path we took was mapped out well in advance. We had an excellent start – and were on our way.
We quickly settled into the passage routines and enjoyed a lovely dinner. Although the conditions were supposed to deteriorate quickly, the conditions actually kept getting better with light winds and clear blue skies. It quickly became apparent that the strong high pressure system was moving farther south than expected, and the developing low would not be as strong.
The most memorable moment of the race was, after sailing through a pod of large whales and many Dolphins, a very curious small sperm whale breached 3 times right next to our boat (less than 100′ away!!) and was obviously checking us out! A moment we all will never forget. Continue Reading →
Today’s Pre-Race Update:
Varuna is in Noank this Am and will leave for Newport at 8am. ETA around 2pm.
The weather for the waters enroute to Bermuda / just north of the stream are challenging – Bermuda (euro model) shows the low quite far to the south while NOAA sees it stronger and just south of the stream – moving north on Monday. The 96 hr 500mb chart is also ugly. I suspect there will be a one day delay in the start of the race as the stream would be very tough to cross with steep breaking waves if east winds over 25 knots. South winds as expected Sunday are no big deal.
James Coffman, long time former student and member of Sound Sailing Center, captained his Hanse 375 (which is the same hull as the VAr 37), with Martin van Breems (founder and owner of SSC) in the afterguard. Jim Boyle, a long time SSC instructor and professor of Oceanography was the navigator.
We initially planned a route through the islands, based on a light wind forecast, but by the start, the winds were strong enough to ignore the tides and head straight down the sound from the start of Stamford with winds out of the SE. Within a few hours the winds backed to the South, and we popped the chute, allowing us to put some distance between our competitors with winds over 18 knots and boat speeds over 10 knots. Unfortunately, the 3/4 oz kite blew out after a roundup, but we still had gained some good distance. Then, the wind totally died, and we were left flopping around the sound.
Even worse, the boats close in to shore were moving! We went into wind seeker mode (which the self tacking jib is great for), and managed to get the boat moving. To our great relief, we soon got some wind, and the boats more inshore were dead. Within Martin’s 2 hour watch, there were 6 sail changes!
As we approached Plum Gut well after dark, James decided to hoist our 2nd kite, and again started making tracks through the night all the way to the north end of Block Island. We sailed through a thunderstorm, and dropped the kite just a minute before we rounded the bouy. Then we started the upwind passage With winds in the 17-19 knot range we were double reefed. They dropped a little as we rounded the southern end of Block, just as dawn broke. We soon realized we had put a considerable distance between us and all the other boats in our class. Continue Reading →