Friday, March 28, 2008
27 Mexico Races & Counting
" THE 1985 CABO RACE ABOARD AMANTE"
Now that I have reached the age of forty something and survived the IOR 1980’s, The Fabulous 50’s in the 1990’s and now in the 2000’s the Cabo Sun is back. With NHYC revitalizing the Cabo race during Trans Pac years the race down the Mexican coast is back with a vengeance. It’s been wonderful for the local sailboat market with the return of the ULDB 70’s and 50’s and the increase in new boat sales. It’s terrific ocean racing that generates true yachtsman.
What I will do in this blurb is go through the years, highlight the good and difficult times down the racecourse.
Back in the day when IOR was king and the competition was keen. We raced three times a year down the Mexican coast with these big old rigs, small mains, big spinnakers and two types of staysails and bloopers. During this time keeping the mast dry was always a challenge. A Sat nav unit cost ten grand and it gave you a fix from time to time if you were lucky. We even carried our water and threw or trash overboard. The best part of the race was the numbers in competition with over 15 boats in each class with almost 60 boats competing in each race.
I started on the Peterson 48 AMANTE with three first overall wins in the March NHYC Cabo race in 83, 85, and 87 a couple middle of the pack finishes in the November LBYC to Cabo race. I sailed on the training ship ALETA a Peterson 45 a number of times to Cabo and Manzanillo.
The 1985 Cabo race was one to remember. At the start we had 15+ knots of true wind and it built to 30 that night. Lesson learned on this one was to go big early and hang on, not always the smart idea, but we made it through the night and had forty miles on competition. With a big breeze race it was easy to finish from there. The LBYC race on the even years was in November and that is just not the time of year for breeze. I recall going into the fourth day after having some breeze past Cedros and just hitting the wall. The little boats would sail up behind you and everyone would float in at once.
The finish is always a challenge at Falso. The best bet is to take the corner close and with one foot on the beach. One year on the mighty “ALETA” we took Falso a little to wide, maybe a half-mile off the beach. Roll call that mooring we were 1st in class and 1st overall. We sat out there all day and watched one boat after the other sail past us on the beach. That was the year BLONDIE was 1st to finish and the owners other boat RAGTIME won overall, what a party.
Craig Fletcher & Len Bose 1985
The raft up was always the challenge, sixty boats all lined up next to each other and you had to step from one boat to the other. I recall a number of friends falling through hatches, sleeping on the wrong boat, catching people at unusual moments or acts. One of the better stories was on a PV race when everyone just got the shit kicked out of them from cobo to PV going backward in a HUGE swell then finding a place out of the storm then finshing two days later. This Olson 30 made it to the finsh when most people hung in the towel. After the race, while cleaning, the owner was in the most forward part of the bow, in an Olson30, when he mistakenly engaged the emergency life raft. I guess you just had to be their after coming from the bar and seeing the owners face yelling for help and cutting his way through the raft. To complete the 80’s I did the NHYC Cabo race in 89 with Pete Heck on a Tartan 40 at the beginning of IMS. Not that a Tartan 40 is an IMS boat, anything but. The moment to remember was when we were coming into Falso and had to gybe to the finsh. The blooper had to come down and that met we were going to crash. Pete Heck was driving and we did this monster round down, water everywhere and everyone holding on. Pete just calmly looks up to the bowman and said trip. Fifty yards from the sand and we rolled our way to the finsh. After this race I was able to drive any boat, in any wind.
BAYWOLF AT FALSO 1999
The 90’s were the years for the Fabulous Fifty’s Fleet. Boats like SC 50’s, JJ Flash a Davidson 50, Climax a Barnett 50, Andrews 56’s, a couple N/M 55’s, and a Farr 55 lead to good racing. Of course this was the time of the 70’s fleet for the big guys and to tell you the truth I still like driving a SC 50 more than a 70, call me crazy? GPS’s are now on the seen with water makers and the competitors are all staying closer to each other. I can still remember Steve Steiner aboard “BLACK SLIVER” the Farr 55 “ cracking up the whole fleet with his performance over the SSB. The Cabo race from NHYC lasted until 1997 and I was onboard BAYWOLF the SC 50 that year with one of the best finishes yet. JJ Flash and BAYWOLF were rated equal and we were in a tacking duel with JJ at Falso. Only about 10 miles from the finsh and JJ passed us going to weather. We threw in a quick tack back towards the beach and JJ’s Main splits in half and we win overall, Great race! One of the other races was the LBYC Cabo race around Guadalupe. Only thing to say about that race is I am glad that fell through the cracks. Although the classic was when the smaller sled CHEETA a Peterson 66 cleaned everyone clocks by sailing outside of San Clemente Island and stole the race from all the newer 70’s. The party after that race with the CHEETA crew would fill pages.
Buddy Richley & Len Bose 1993 NHYC WYLIE 46 HEARBEAT
A pattern started to develop; Cabo now had its marina, and wanted nothing to do with a bunch of cheap sailors. So the races started to finsh in Mazatlan, PV and Manzanillo. This was all good other than having to start in February and trying to make it across the gulf, which seems to never happen. During this time, I started to pay closer attentions to navigation and who was the person too beat. It always seems to come down to having to beat Tom Leweck or Pete Heck for overall. During this time we learned to take Cabo tight only for the Mazatlan race. If you took Cabo tight for the PV race you would end up at the Marias Island’s and your race is over. It pays to stay about 20 miles off Cabo and sail low of rum line and reach up in the light wind at the finsh. We leaned the hard way in 1999 watching the J 160 BUSHWACKER with Tom Leweck sailing low after the cape and just killing it. It’s been years since I sailed into Manzanillo and I was never at the chart table in the early 90’s although I remember light winds across the gulf and ending up at some airport just in a world of hurt. The idea was to sail low of rum line after the cape and reach up in the light winds just like PV.
"If you look close, the blue chute is BUSHWACKER in the 1999 PV off Cedros"
In 2001 I was sailing with SC 50 “BAYWOLF”. The owner of the boat is Kirk Wilson
“ Captain Kirk” as we call him and the captain was on fire, we were sailing in the MDR to PV race and we were hitting every shift. We sailed low at the start and sailed through the lee of Catalina like we knew what we were doing, we had a five-mile lead on OCTAVIA the first night. We fell into the grove and were sailing away from shore at night and back to shore during the day. OCTAVIA is the best-sailed SC 50’s of the 90’s and the first part of 2000 and we had speed on her. We held our lead until we hit Cedros where she rolled us that night and put five miles on us. By the end of day four she had eight miles on us and increased her lead to twenty miles on us by day five. We were sailing lower than her and found ourselves thirty miles south of her and twenty behind to start day five. If you recall we learned a big lesson in 1999 and we kept clear of the cape and played or card the last day of the race. Of course the wind was light and we were sailing on a much closer reach than OCTAVIA. Because the two boats had been pushing each other we had sailed into the class ahead of us in PHRF A. Class A consisted of such boats as LOCOMOTION, WASABI, FALCON, ROSEBUD, and CANTATA just to name a few. Captain Kirk was let down by us being twenty miles behind OCTAVIA going into the last day. One thing you have to remember in a Mexico race and that is “the race is not over until it’s over”. We had been monitoring the VHF as we entered Banderas Bay. Kirk and I were coming off watch when we heard FALCON and LOCOMOTION give their five miles out report. You never saw two people come ripping out of their bunks any faster and head for the GPS. We were only ten miles out but where is OCTAVIA? Had they finished? With five miles to go, sailing through the fog, Caption Kirk reached for the VHF mic to report that we were five miles out and just then OCTAVIA reported their five-mile report. We had them because they owed us an hour. So we held on to our five-mile report until we were three miles out. Now, we were sailing in a fog and could not see shit! Keeping our ears to VHF we were a half-mile from the finish when the fog lifted and there was OCTAVIA on Starboard tack headed for the finsh line. As we got closer we found we could not cross her and wanted to do a lee bow on her but we had her on time and did not want to foul her by tacking to close so we elected to duck. To say the least, tension was high on the boat, as we had to dump the main to duck her and then tack over to starboard to finsh. Just as we tacked OCTAVIA finished we came in 30 seconds later. Great race and they were pissed because they owed us time, fuck it! WE WON and placed second overall to an Open 50 “ESTRANGER” that had her rating raised by over a minute a mile the next race. We had sailed a great race and beat some very good people. IT FELT GOOD!
" Captain Kirk" At THE START OF THE 2001 PV RACE"
October of 2002 came around and someone from NHYC and LBYC thought it was a good idea to sail to NAVIDAD in November. The ninety were still very clear in my head and I wanted nothing to-do with that race with only eleven boats showing up and absolutely no wind across the gulf. You might notice that NHYC and LBYC have dropped this race. At the time, I was sitting behind my desk, playing arm chair navigator and came up with the following:
In 2003 was the MDR to PV race with a total of 9 boats entered “wow” what fun again sailing through the gulf in February. BAYWOLF almost won it again but fell into a hole in Banderas and had HORION sail up behind her and held on to her time. Funny how things work.
Well its 2005 and NHYC starts the Cabo race back up in Trans Pac year and sailing in March. What a great race! Lots of wind, lots of boats and it feels like were back in the 80’s. Although this time I am on a Nordic 40 double handed. We’re the only double- handed entry and we were sailing in class C. AMERACAP loves the slow cruising boat and its blowing, perfect!
The only problem is we are double-handed and its blowing like shit. Day one after roll call and we are 3rd in class and forth overall. This goes on until day three and now the shit hits the fan as we hit over thirty knots of breeze and some of the best waves I have seen in years. Man I love sailing off shore past Cedros Island. We have to gybe and rap the chute and end up having to cut it away. We set the 1.5 and held on through the night. HUGE waves and I am driving for over 10 hours and pissing on the wheel. We finally take the 1.5 down and wing and wing it through the next night. Thinking we are out of the race we wake up the next morning to find ourselves still third in class and seventh overall, back up goes the 1.5 and if we can hold on with the breeze we might get back into 5th overall. Were sailing in 30 plus knots of breeze again and we hit the wall off Matancitas and come to a full stop. Working our way down the course about another 20 miles and were in the shit again and crash hard. Down comes the 1.5 and we have the 155% poled out in 30+ knots of breeze. The crash took about two hours to come out of and we finished 3rd in class and ninth overall out of sixty boats, not bad for a first try at off shore double-hand.
The key to double handed sailing is time with the autopilot!
" 2005 3rd PLACE IN CLASS C"
Well were getting ready for the San Diego to PV race due to go off in the end of February. I hate racing in February and sailing through the gulf. The problem is, I love sailing this J 125. Great boat, shitty Harken bearing and rudder design. Fortunately we have Jon Shampain setting the boat up for us and he is the man! We have Craig Chamberlain going, Dan Rossen, and Jon Shampain along with the Shanner Family we should be tough.
The big question is, what is BYC thinking? By overlapping a race down to Cabo only three weeks after the PV race. At first glance one has to think that this is a bad idea to conflict the two races. This may lead to burn out? The bottom line is that racing to PV and across the gulf in February really sucks. So if San Diego Yacht Club thinks that’s what the people want, that’s fine. The truth to the matter is, Cabo is a much better race and it should play out to be the better for the sport and make better yachtsman of all of us. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org during the race and tell us how were doing.