Wednesday, June 22, 2011

J/109 Crushes Van-Isle 360

J/109 crew winners on Van Isle 360 race (Victoria, BC, Canada)- No matter how many times teams have sailed the Around Vancouver Isle race, they know they can expect at least one or two epic passages on one of the nine legs and most of the time that would be on the desolate western coast offshore into the Pacific.  This year's Leg Eight-  from Winter Harbour to Ucluelet - is a 138 miler that can make or break the entire event for some boats. It can best be summed up as epic.  It was a very hard leg.  One sailor stated, "it was the toughest race I have ever been in."   Seasickness was rampant in the fleet leaving many crews shorthanded to deal with the tough conditions.  With wind in the high 20's and square confused waves, the consensus was it was the waves and not the wind that made the leg so miserable.   All but the first few boats made an immediate transition from SE to NW winds as they got down the course and most finished under spinnaker.  Nevertheless, after surviving the leg, the awards ceremony held at the new community center in Ucluelet was a huge success.  The fleet raised over $8500.00 for the Coast Guard Aux. Unit 38, who stood by all day and night to escort the boats into Ucluelets' inner harbour.  A salmon BBQ was enjoyed as the stories from this leg grew and the waves got bigger!

Vancouver Isle race startJ/109- Team Mojo account of this epic leg:  "The west coast of Vancouver Island is a graveyard to boats and beside the other boats competing in this race, a very lonely place. There is nothing else out there but whales and big rocks until the end of this leg.  By 2300, we were thirty miles offshore, beating into a gale.  We were fully powered up with a double reefed main, traveller down and a small no.3 jib. Seas were 2-3 meters.  Going out, we would hit the waves and slam very hard from time to time.  Every wave you smash into sends a wall of water and spray at the guys on the rail and over the boat and slows you down.  At times you think the boat will break in half.  At 1800 I decided to go down and start to get dinner ready to feed the guys.  I lashed myself to the stove in order not to get sent flying across the cabin, boiled water and poured it into those adventure meal packs.  I managed to do all seven meals without injury and without getting sea sick. Being down below for an hour in those conditions is tough.  I am quite happy to say we managed to do the race without anybody getting sick.  Many boats were not so lucky and some had most of the crew incapacitated."

"We accelerated with each wave and it felt like we were flying.  It was dark so visibility was poor since it was raining, but we were going like hell. The next 5 hours were just insane.  I would rotate two guys to rest and warm up down below.  Per and I have developed a little system for driving Mojo hard in breeze so we stayed together till morning, keeping Mojo upright and watching the speedo hit 9 knots as we seemingly launched off the waves in the dark.  From time to time, I would doze off to be awakened by the lurching motion as we launched yet again off another ramp.  So that's what we did until sunrise.  It was a cold, wet, and difficult night.  I just wanted to go to sleep so bad, but had to keep fighting to stay awake and warm. It's not natural! You have to stay awake, you cannot leave and go hide in a warm spot. Just 4 more hours...just two more...the sun will come up in one hour... And then it's light and your body chemistry comes back to normal.  You are tired, but the struggle is over.  That is the nature of night racing."

"The front had also passed in the night and all of a sudden we went from sailing upwind to sailing downwind. The guys were tired but after a terrible attempt to put up our spinnaker, which ended up in the water, we finally got it up and managed to sail down wind the next 65 miles. The sea state was very confused for the first two hours because of the change in wind direction 180 degrees but we finally got Mojo going and racing to the finish.  What a leg to be remembered."

For the final Leg Nine headed back to Victoria, the long awaited westerly breeze finally showed up, in spades.  A solid 20 knots and big swells on the start line at Amphitrite point made for perfect surfing conditions as the 38 boats remaining in the race headed for home.

For Division 2, Jim Prentice on his J/109 DIVA won their class overall and another J/109 ASTRAL PLANE sailed by Adam Corbin finished third.  For more Vancouver Isle 360 sailing results