Friday, March 25, 2016

J/125 MEXORC- The Agony & Ecstacy!

J/125 sailing MEXORC fast! (Puerto Vallarta, Mexico)- The challenge and joy of racing in Bahia de Banderas is one to experience.  Gorgeous waters, 75 deg temperatures and reliable sea-breezes that pipe in at 10-18 kts around noon make for some epic racing and even more mind-blowing memories.  After all, it’s not uncommon to see manta rays leaping about, big fat whales spouting all over the place in their annual spring mating rituals and thousands of fish leaping into the air to avoid getting eaten by some giant bluefin tuna rampaging below the surface.  Such is life in the tropics during the spring off Puerto Vallarta’s famous coastline— one of Mexico’s premiere resort areas.

As part of those spring rites of passage, sailors themselves congregate to participate in the Bahia de Banderas Regatta, long a favorite of the cruising crowd.  In recent years, the event has grown the cruiser/racer division and this year’s classes saw some spirited competition.  Here’s a report from Keith Magnussen from Ullman Sails Newport Beach, CA:

“It seems like a long time has passed since I wrote about the build up to the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta race and MEXORC Regatta on the J/125 “Timeshaver”.  An abundance of adventuring has occurred and it is only natural that we choose the highlights to talk about.

First off, let us revisit the SD-PV Race.  The forecast was initially giving our navigator much distress.  Was it going to be windy?  Not windy?  Really windy?  No one really had a firm grip on what mother nature would bring us, all I knew was that I was sailing 1000 miles south regardless of the conditions.  It seems that this mindset helps me function at a higher level when the race finally does start.  In my mind, I am ready for anything and will work on making the boat fast in all conditions.

One thousand miles can appear like a long trek, unless you are on a J/125 with some good breeze.  Our first three days consisted of just that.  A couple of the new guys to the boat were used to a Santa Cruz 50 and their eyes lit up as the boat took off in 20 plus knots of wind.  By the end of the first day, we were into our 4A planing spinnaker, which means we are having fun.

As the race progressed, we found ourselves leading the charge.  We were leading the charge until the dreaded turn around the tip of Baja California.  This was actually one of my favorite parts of the journey, even though we ended up getting passed.  We decided to skirt Cabo San Lucas closely, and by close, I mean we were in the bay dodging pangas and Para Sailing tourists!  The view was spectacular as we glided across the bay and jibed away only to get stuck in some light air.  Oh well that it sailboat racing.
We ended up second in class with disappointment and a sense of “what if” surrounding the camp.

A few days of rest and contemplation ensued as we prepared for the week-long regatta that follows the bi-annual PV race.  The MEXORC regatta was a good opportunity for us to prove ourselves after falling short in the PV race.

The J/125 was put together in a class with three Farr 40’s and two Santa Cruz 50’s.  Racing was split between W/L and random leg racing which gave all the boats a chance to sail within their best conditions. Our first day was marred by a very unfortunate result for my football team.  Sailors are superstitious in nature, but I have one thing going against me.  Anytime Arsenal FC loses, I have a bad day on the water.  Arsenal lost and we placed fifth in the first race of the MEXORC series.  Monday was a different story.  No football games to mess me up!  Four races later, we had straight bullets and were leading the regatta.

Two days were spent doing random leg racing and it was here that the little J/125 really shined.  In the pursuit race, we marched to a victory well ahead of the nearest boats.  It was a crucial spinnaker change from the 2A to the 5A that helped us cross the finish line at 16kts of boatspeed while most of our competitors jib reached the final few miles.  It is a good feeling to see TP52’s, SC-50’s and a plethora of other yachts behind you at the finish.

Same scenario happened in the second random leg race.  Finished doing 16kts with the 5A up and correcting out on the nearest boat by a good 6 minutes or so gave us confidence that the regatta was ours.

We ended up clinching first place with one day to spare.  It was a great relief and we sailed the final day with a sense of ease.  The only thing that marred the day was some unscrupulous actions from the “professionals” on some other boats that were truly taking advantage of our laid back approach to the race.  Such is sailboat racing that it brings out the worst of a person’s ego.  We did not let it ruin our day, as we knew that our actions and clean sailing was the core to our success.

I would again like to thank Viggo Torbensen and the entire Timeshaver team for working hard and sailing cleanly through two weeks of tough racing.  For me the trip was another adventure in this book of life and another opportunity to learn about myself and the nature of competition.  Always a fun time and I look forward to more.  K-Mag out.”