When Shifty Winds and Swells Require Tight Tactical Racing

Day two of Yachting Cup featured a lot of activity spread throughout the three ocean courses where eighty-five boats competed in twelve different classes. The Race Committee fit in 4 races on Courses A and B but only 3 races on Course C due to shifty winds and 4-5 foot swells. Throughout the day incredibly tight navigating was needed around weather marks, giving an excuse for sailors to showcase their maneuvering talent.

The beginning of the day looked bleak when competitors woke up to an uncommonly rainy San Diego morning. However, the day cleared up and the sun managed to greet the racers for the 11:30am starts. All three courses experienced similar but slightly different weather patterns.

“The winds were between 10-13 knots out of the South on Course C which was strange,” according to crew Lynsi Gibbons on Precepts 3.2, a Melges 32. “The waves were atrocious and Race Committee had to postpone the first start twice. Race Committee did a really good job getting us started because they knew we were getting frustrated. Once we started, we were right up there with the rest of the Melges 32 class, which was great because we’ve only had our boat for a short amount of time.”

The team aboard the NM52, Elixir, sits in second place, likely because they nailed the start of their third race and kept their lead around the weather mark ahead of Fox, one of their big competitors.

Elixir’s skipper, Chad Downey, shared that, “It was fantastic to be out there, but as I’m sure others are saying, the most challenging part was the swell and the soft breezes. The competition was fierce. Luckily we had a phenomenal crew and toys from SD Boatworks which helped us do really well.”

Victor Diaz De Leon aboard the J/70 Minor Threat, who was a member of the winning crew in the 2015 J/70 North American Championship, commented on the conditions on Course A. “The wind made it difficult because the typical San Diego rules didn’t apply. It was pressure on both sides which made it really tricky. It was still a fun day to sail. The competition within the J/70 fleet was really close with different wins for different boats.”

The wind on Course B was alternating between 10 to 12 knots. Crews needed to move swiftly and maintain control of tight spinnaker maneuvers to be at the front of the pack. This combination required smart and quick correcting on the course. The Beneteau 36.7 and Schock 35 classes really excelled with these changes and saw some close racing.

Chick Pyle, skipper of the Beneteau 36.7, Kea, also reported a tough day of racing. “The fleet was compact which added to the difficulty. But luckily the crew did a great job adjusting to the swell and shifty winds which made it easier to steer. I’d say that it was the crew’s ability to maneuver well around the turns that saved us a lot of distance on the course. I’m looking forward to seeing what tomorrow brings.”

Though the day’s conditions were slightly atypical for San Diego, the team aboard the Farr 40, Skian Dhu, is used to other weather patterns seeing as they traveled all the way from Uruguay to partake in this year’s Yachting Cup in their first U.S. race ever. You can’t miss their boat in the Farr 40 fleet- it’s the one with the giant red eye on it.

According to skipper Martin Meerhoff, “the boat was designed by Judel Vrolijk and it’s made of carbon fiber. Our team is from Yacht Club Urugayo which was started back in 1906. We are focused a lot on tradition and our team has been sailing together for 40 years. We’re so happy to have the opportunity to come to the U.S. to sail in this event.”

Tonight Yachting Cup participants and guests will seize the SDYC deck for the always highly anticipated Cinco de Mayo party. Regatta Chair, Julie Servais, plans the Cinco de Mayo party each year as a fun buffer between the two days of intense racing.

“I heard it was a challenging day out on the water, so I’m looking forward to bringing everyone together for a well-deserved celebration. We have great food and drinks and a warm atmosphere for people to debrief about their day before doing it all again tomorrow.”

Sunday brings the last day of racing for this year’s Yachting Cup starting at 11:30am. Yachting Cup competitors are invited to stay for the awards ceremony after the racing concludes tomorrow.

The Yachting Cup would like to thank its sponsors: Sailing Supply/Downwind Marine, Pirates Lair, Ballast Point, SunBum, Helly Hansen, North Sails, North Sails Graphics, SD Boatworks, Tesla Motors, Anchor Gloves, Lemon & Lime, El Jimador, Mount Gay Rum and Efficient Working Bodies.

Jared Wohlgemuth