Saturday – June
19th – Surfside to Galveston
Story by Melissa Burns
Photos by Andrew Burnard.
The morning was
kicked off with an 8 AM Skippers Meeting and a 9 AM start to the second
annual Surfside to Galveston Dash. This year there were 23 Dash
teams, so the first line of 11 boats left the beach at 9 AM and the
second line of 12 boats left the beach two minutes later. Pat2
got a slower start, leaving about 15 minutes after the last Dash boat
left the beach. The winds and surf were light, but getting out
was not a problem and all 23 boats were on their way to East Beach
The 10 GT300 boats
were ready and waiting at the start of the last leg of the Great Texas,
and at 10 AM headed out through the surf with no problems.
On the ride from Surfside to Galveston,
road crews were able to pull aside and see both the Dash and the GT300
sailors going up the coast. Because the winds were light, the
first boat on the horizon was slow to appear. The first Dash
team to hit the beach was Team Cat Alley, sailing an ARC22. They
were followed by Teams Flip, Flop & Fly, Fast Cat Racing, Yo Baby!
Four hours and 23 minutes after
the start of the final leg of the GT300, Team Yost Auto was the first
GT team to hit the beach in Galveston. Five minutes later, it
was a race to the finish line between Teams Salva Vida Vela and RuffRider. Team
Salva Vida Vela was closest to the finish line when Ian Billings of
Team RuffRider hopped off the boat and began running and pushing the
boat in as fast as he could. Team Salva Vida Vela’s team
manager ran out and helped push them over the finish line one second
before Team RuffRider. What an exciting finish!
The next to arrive was Dash Team
Brian, followed ten minutes later by the last GT300 boat, Team Jack
Flash. The last Dash boats arriving were Teams Just Add Nada,
Hobie Juan, Lay Lynes, Roll Tide, Red Ink Racing, Pat2, Breaking Wind,
Hullflying, Drunken Sailbots and Xtra Horsepower.
After packing up their gear, taking
apart the boats and getting them back on the trailers, teams left the
beach for some rest and refreshment prior to the dinner and awards
ceremony, which was again a wonderfully catered event and held at the
Inn at the Waterpark.
Congrats to Team RuffRider for their
first place finish in the F18 class and as overall 2010 GT300 winner! Congrats
also to Team Yost Auto for their first place finish in the Open Fleet
and to Team Cat Alley for their first place finish in the Surfside
to Galveston Dash. All in all it was a fantastic week and everyone
The Great Texas Catamaran Race and
the Great Texas Fleet would like to thank our Gold Sponsor, Portfolio
Advisory Council, and all of our other sponsors, Catamaran Sailor
Magazine, Tybok Promotions, Mariner Sails, Murray’s, Peck Arts,
TCDYC and Harpoon Brewery. You can view race results at http://www.gt300.com/Home/race-results-2010 and
pictures from the entire week at http://picasaweb.google.com/greattexas300/GT300_10. The
2011 Great Texas Catamaran Race will be held June 15th – 18th. See
June 16th – Day One – South Padre Island to
Also be sure to check Catsailor.com
Forum for some exciting reports. Here is the Link:
day started off with a 9 AM Skippers’ Meeting at a 10 AM start
from the beach. The winds and the surf were light, so chutes
popped open on most of the boats before they even left the beach. Most
teams had very little difficulty making it through the surf, but TCDYC
were slower getting out into it. By 10:15 all teams were out
and on their ways to Mustang Island.
seemed to be going well, until a storm was spotted on the radar, and
those of us on the beach were concerned about the number of teams that
would be caught in it. As we patiently waited, the first team
was sighted around the Corpus Christi Jetties between 5:30 and 6:00
PM. Team RuffRider hit the beach first, followed by Team Velocitek
about 8 minutes later and Team TCDYC about 30 minutes later.
storm we saw on the radar finally hit us on Mustang Island and brought
with it heavy winds and quite a bit of rain. The temperature also cooled
off and after the storm passed, the wind died down significantly. Team
Yost limped their way across the finish line with no boom or main sail
and a hole in their spinnaker, followed a little over 30 minutes later
by Team Salva Vida Vela. Team Poison Girl came in about 20 minutes
after that. Team Rudderless made it in around 9 PM, with you
guessed it, one rudder. Steve Piche said that they came up on
the back side of the storm and that’s when things got nasty. Team
Chums hit the darkened beach about an hour and half later and Team
Jack Flash finally arrived about 35 minutes after that.
the early evening, the Race Committee and some team managers also received
phone calls and text messages speaking of trouble and difficulties
out on the water. Per their team manager, Team Corpus had some
torn sails and made it into the beach on the other side of the Jetties. Fortunately,
they were safely picked up there by their team manager. Unfortunately,
Team Pacmen and Team Quiksilver both turtled their boats and required
Coast Guard rescue. But the main thing is that both these teams
are safe and sound on dry land.
This morning we are
headed out to the beach to see what damage the daylight reveals.
Thursday – June
17th – Day Two – Mustang Island to Matagorda
This morning the
teams were met with perfect wind and waves. All nine teams lined
up on the beach after tweaking their boats and fixing damages done
from the previous day’s stormy leg. Five out of nine teams
crossed the line a little early, incurring a ten-minute penalty plus
amount of time over too early. Teams Rudderless, Salva Vida Vela,
Yost and Poison Girl were determined not to be over the starting line
early. All teams were able to get through the surf and on their ways
to Matagorda without any problems.
Ground crews began
arriving in Matagorda around 2 PM and awaited arrival of the first
boats. Team RuffRider was the first to arrive, followed by Team
Velocitek. The next group to arrive consisted of Teams Yost Auto,
Rudderless, TCDYC and Chums. They were soon followed by Teams
Salva Vida Vela, Poison Girl and Jack Flash. The good news is,
Team Rudderless made it to the beach with two rudders fully intact!
After the safe arrival
of the 9 remaining teams, Team Quiksilver served up some tasty rice
At the end of the
day two, Team RuffRider is in first, followed by Team Velocitek in
second, Team Rudderless in third and Team TCDYC in fourth.
The 2010 GT300 had some last-minute guests that made
a huge impact on the race. The Great Texas Fleet, TCDYC, Red Gear Racing,
and Australian High Performance Catamarans brought the On-The-Water Anarchy
team of John Casey and Alan "Mr. Clean" Block down to the Lone
Star State to produce their live streaming video coverage of the entire
event. Despite bandwidth issues for the isolated first two legs,
the SA crew managed to get some amazing video out to the world of the
starts, finishes, and even some of the racing, and the feedback from
everyone involved - the sailors, their friends and families, the public
on the beach, and the internet spectators - was overwhelmingly positive. Mr.
Clean himself was shocked at the amount of traffic the reports received. "At
last count, we had over 250,000 views of the streaming feeds and archives" he
said just three days after the event's conclusion. "That's
more than our America's Cup coverage in Valencia received." Hopefully,
that increased interest will generate similar coverage of other adventure
catamaran races, and result in increased participation at this kind of
THE GREAT TEXAS 300 CATAMARAN RACE
TEAM Dallas II & THE DASH 2010
By John Webster
With thanks to Steve Foxall
In Memory of Mike Worrell
After driving home from work Saturday evening, eating a quick meal and
packing the Jeep with my sailing gear I headed out of the garage and
into the night just after 7:45PM on my way to the Texas coast and Surfside.
The long lonely drive from Dallas to Surfside was punctuated by many,
and I mean MANY police vehicles all looking like Christmas trees in the
distance, and once close enough, all on the other side of the Highway.
At 1:15 AM I rolled into the Surfside Hotel, found the key Steve Foxall
had stashed and slunk into the room… He was awake! We discussed
the drive, the boat, the time and fell asleep.
At the crack of dawn he was awake and made sure that his crew was also
awake… Breakfast was eaten and then it was off to check on the
boat resting on the sands of Surfside Beach. It was great to be amongst
the GT 300 sailors and ground crews once again as we both missed the
fun of the GT 300, which we both have been a part of for the past 7 years.
The Hobie 18SX was made ready and at the appointed time of 9:00AM we
were off heading out through the light surf in a light southerly breeze.
The waves were small and getting out through the surf was not at all
difficult. Once out in clear water we turned and began the run to East
Beach about 40 odd miles to the North.
This leg is one of my favorite ones as you have 100% vehicle access
to the coast so caution is thrown to the winds as you drive the boat
as hard as you can and even in the light to moderate winds of this day
we were making good speed.
Tacking into the beach as the winds dropped off and then picking up the
draft from the land / water interface we roared off North again.
During one of the tacks into the beach a pair of dolphin saw us and
changed their southerly course to swim with us to the beach. The were
swimming only a few feet from the starboard hull and stayed with as until
we tacked to head back North up the beach. You could plainly see their
curious eyes watching and taking in all the action on the boat.
The race was going well for us as we kept up a decent speed and managed
to ride the spinnaker driven Hobie 18SX as she flew her starboard hull
on several occasions. I have to say that sailing a Hobie SX with wings
is more like sailing a very comfortable armchair and is nothing like
the typical ride Steve and I have on the Inter 20 during other GT 300
After a couple of hours of sailing we were beginning to see the front
runners of the GT 300 racing fleet coming on fast from the south. Over
taking the slower GT 300 DASH boats they began to grow in size as the
made their way towards us and then… they were past us and gone… Team
Dallas II was alone once again.
There was an abundance of sea grass which kept Steve and I busy removing
it from the dagger boards and rudders however, the sea grass was providing
food for an abundance of sea life such as huge fish that were intent
on making a meal of the smaller fish using the sea grass for shelter.
There was a sea turtle feeding on one floating batch totally unaware
that we were approaching fast … we came up to him and he panic
dived as we sailed over his patch of food. Another much larger turtle
was seen several boat lengths away and was estimated to have been almost
6 feet across his carapace.
Still traveling north we were beginning to see the typical landmarks
of Galveston… first the concrete sea wall shows itself and then
the Hotel that is built out on a pier. This hotel is currently abandoned
but still has an impressive presence as it sits there, supported by the
fragile pilings, waves pounding against them and the sea birds floating
on the wind as it whistles around the open structures. As you sail by
you begin to get a sense that you are almost done!
Seeing the large condominiums just north and east of Galveston you realize
that the finish line is almost in view. You now are aware of the many
other boats that are within view… boats that were, for the most
part invisible for most of the race… they seem to come out of
nowhere all racing to the same point on the sand … and they are
all going FASTER then you!
The East Beach finish for the Dash boats is usually a little disappointing
as there are many boats on the beach when you come upon the finish line… In
fact it looks like you are the last boat to finish as the forest of mast
becomes visible. Charging through the small waves you cross the finish
line to a cheer from the waiting sailors and ground crews and the race
Racing the Dash!!!
by Ricky Richardson, Team Misfits, Hobie18SX
We decided to arrive early this year for the race from Surfside to Galveston.
By the time we arrived Friday afternoon, the Great Texas 300 competitors
had their catamarans lined up on the beach and were enjoying a much needed
rest in Surfside.
Ernest and Rita Langford from Texas City Dikes Yacht Club had some supper
cooked up for the competitors at the gathering hole so we went and joined
in on the camaraderie and filled our bellies with some spicy meatballs
and spaghetti. The food and the friendship were excellent.
The Dash competition this year had just about doubled and was looking
pretty fierce - there were 23 boats with two starts Saturday morning
at 9:00 and 9:02 respectively. The race committee did an excellent job
in getting us set up to go.
The Great Texas 300 competitors came out in force early Saturday morning
to shove us off the beach, this group of guys are always there to help
out the newer inexperienced sailors. The wind had been blowing hard and
steady all night from the southeast but had died down by the start.
John Tomko had pushed us off the beach and I was a bit surprised how
fast he was, needless to say we got a good push off the beach. We tied
the port rudder down, dropped the dagger boards and hoisted the spinnaker
and off we were for the 32.8 mile trek up the Texas Coast.
There was a pack of 5 boats heading in the same direction as us along
the coastline. We pretty much stayed in sight of them except for the
winners on an ARC22, Dennis Banks and Matt Parker, they took off out
to sea and sailed out of sight. They arrived at the beach an hour and
fourteen minutes ahead of us sealing their top place and first to the
This is the third year that the Dash has been run on the last day of
the Great Texas 300 and I appreciate the Great Texas Fleet for giving
us the opportunity to join them at this event.
Article written by Mike Beuerlein, GT Team Quiksilver - written as a
letter to Mike Rohrer, who was diagnosed with colon cancer and underwent
surgery prior to the GT this year.
It is extremely rare that you ask me for sailing wisdom and, because
of that, I can only assume that you must be under the influence of powerful
prescription medication but I will attempt to list all the lessons Team
Quiksilver learned during the 2010 Great Texas 300. This was the first
Great Texas I’ve ever not finished and, as you know, it’s
very painful to watch your friend s sail off and leave you. This account
may help you with any feelings of envy you may have of being out there
or, at least, being out there with me.
Mike, I can tell you after watching the storm devastate the fleet that
I was almost happy to be at home. However, now I would look at it as
a challenge to survive it and the rest of the race looked fun if you
survived day 1. I want your input because we all learn from our mistakes.
I had trouble with my mast at Hill Country and want to avoid getting
water in the mast and what you had happen to me. I talked to Yoder and
we discussed having a water bag. If you detach the mast, I calculated
you need about 500 lbs of crew weight hanging 2 ft out from the hull
which is tall order when turtled. So in retrospect detaching the mast
should be the last ditch effort. (It was! I knew we could not get the
boat over at that point and was just trying to minimize the damage the
mast would do to the hulls by dropping it away from the boat.) We also
discussed adding a one way valve at the top of the mast and a port at
the base so you could pressurize the mast with a pump and force the water
out. I also mentioned to you that having a blow up float you could clip
to the top of the mast might be enough backup if you make sure your mast
is not leaking. I’ve removed and sealed my suspect rivets and installed
black Dacron (insignia cloth) tape over all stray rivets or holes in
my mast. All of this would be unnecessary if I had properly sealed my
mast. This tape is even better than using vinyl tape. I’ve also
installed a port in the bottom of my mast above the internal foam plug
for draining the mast when I suspect I have taken water during a flip.
Wednesday’s start conditions were perfect with a SSE breeze at
10-12 and little surf. Watching the video it looked like 5-10mph getting
through the surf. We started in the 5th position but were able to exit
the surf and settle into the lead due to some energetic paddling by David
Yoder. It was thereafter a replay of 2009, gentle and easy downwind sailing,
gybing along the shoreline. Team Ruff Riders caught us before Port Mansfield
and the I-20s gradually walked over us but we were able to hold off the
other F-18s for several hours. Then, Rudderless, Salva Vida Vela and
Velocitek all piled over us in the space of a mile. Sure enough, we had
picked up a huge wad of seaweed on our boards. We learned that whenever
we couldn’t match our competitor’s boat speed, check for
seaweed build-up. You should also watch your speedo. So it was until
mid-afternoon as we gradually worked out a little further from shore
than the lead F-18s in negligible waves and gentle breeze.
TCDYC and Corpus Christi had had terrible starts and had gradually fallen
off the horizon in the rear. Suddenly, they re-appeared and, in short
order, motored past us well out to sea. We guessed that they were single
trap reaching in somewhat better breeze so David got out on the wire
and we heated it up a bit. We applied the lesson we learned last year – to
always keep an eye on all your competitors and emulate the ones who are
beating you. The wind was still too light for us to really get it going
but we managed to keep some of the leaders in sight. All in all, not
an E-ticket ride; more like the kind where you don’t even have
to be 48” tall.
As the afternoon wore on, the wind ever so gradually began to strengthen.
We even tried double-trapping for a while but we were just above the
rhumb line and didn’t want to go too much farther out than our
current five miles or so. We were making approx. 16-18 VMG with one on
the wire approx. 11 miles south of the first finish, still within sight
of Yost Auto & Salva Vida Vela. Conditions had been maddeningly slow
to build but we were now anticipating a 6:45 p.m. finish. We were sailing
conservatively and had been careful all afternoon to stay regularly hydrated
and nourished to conserve strength for a stretch run where we hoped to
capitalize on our competitors’ fatigue-induced mistakes. It was
about this time (a little before 6:00p.m.) that we noticed a menacing-looking
storm system behind us which seemed to be gaining on us. When it became
apparent that the black squall was over-taking us from the south and
we would not be able to beat the storm to the finish, we gybed toward
shore and very quickly encountered extremely cool breeze. We should have
shortened sail and attached safety lines at this point but did not. Shortly
thereafter we experienced an extremely violent pitch pole which flung
me (I happened to be on the wire at the time) a considerable distance
ahead of the boat. David said I was still going up when he lost sight
of me and I don’t think I’ve ever been thrown farther. I
was concerned about being separated from the boat but my concerns were
immediately put to rest when I came up to find the boat coming over directly
on top of me. Chis and I wear the safety lines during the entire ride
except in the surf. We have them rigged well enough that they don’t
get in our way. Neither of us has yet to fall off yet, but I have been
in the drink on other occasions for broken trap parts. If you are going
18 miles an hour and your crew trap breaks how far away will you be from
your crew after you get the chute down and return? You may be unable
to see him if the waves are big or worse you flip over and he cannot
catch you. Now you are totally screwed unless you have a water bag or
enough wind to help right. I grabbed a hold and found David hanging like
a bat by his legs from the foot straps. My grabbing a hold, blowing the
main and retrieving the righting line while David extracted himself from
the foot straps combined with a strong following wind resulted in the
boat turtling and blowing over to the other side. We dropped the spinnaker
and quickly righted the boat with the aid of a 20-30 knot breeze. At
this point, we rigged for full-on survival sailing dead downwind (main
sheeted tight and traveled in as close as I dared, both of us on the
rear crossbar) we were making 14-16 knots straight at the finish. I wonder
if you could have gone head to wind and dropped your main in the blow.
It may be difficult to do with the jib trying to push you around. I want
to try this in some good breeze. You could have made good head way with
just the jib toward the finish until the wind dropped enough. We went
on this way for a few minutes in 20-40 knot breeze when we experienced
another extremely violent pitch pole which we very nearly survived. This
time, however, it was my turn to get caught in the foot straps. I ended
up hanging by one leg and, again, turtling the boat. I have found during
survival conditions it’s better to sit on the boat because you
can manage the sails better when it gets rough if you are sitting down
and if you flip over you are much less likely to get hurt or break the
boat. I was slow to climb on and get the boat righted and, eventually,
the mast took on so much water that it was impossible to right the boat
even with our weight distributed out as far as possible (i.e. David sitting
on my chest). Unable to right the boat after exhausting an hour trying
different ideas and too far offshore to paddle in, we made the decision
to request aid and called the U.S. Coast Guard and the PRO to report
our predicament. At the time we were taken off of the catamaran by the
Coast Guard boat, there was no damage to the hulls, mast or sails other
than a broken trapeze bungee and water in the mast. By the time the boat
was recovered, after coming ashore through the surf, it was a total loss.
First and foremost: Seal the mast! And test the mast prior to this race!!!
This is something I have not done in the past, but will make it a point
to make sure mast and hulls do not leak!! I had taken great care to seal
this mast prior to this year but it was not sealed when it counted. Dave
and I turtled the boat at both Ides of March and Hill Country regattas
with no trouble getting it back up. I know that the sail had mud on it
after each but didn’t consider that it may have struck something
hard. I should’ve confirmed that it was still watertight. Had we
been able to right the boat and continue sailing, even if we had somehow
damaged our sails, we would’ve been able to finish. When the mast
took on sufficient water that we were unable to right it after several
quick succession turtlings, our fate was sealed.
Second: Shorten sail and attach safety lines preemptively when sailing
toward a storm. We had observed that we were sailing at nearly 20 knots
and yet the storm caught us rapidly from the rear. How it did not occur
to us that that meant winds would be quite strong within the storm is
beyond comprehension. I can only say that we were anticipating getting
to the finish shortly and had spent all day wishing for stronger breeze.
We got a little more than what we wished for. You did the right thing
heading towards shore, but not soon enough.
Third: The satellite phone is THE essential piece of safety gear. When
VHF radio messages were garbled, the satellite phone was crystal clear.
We wasted time trying to communicate our GPS coordinates to shore any
other way (i.e. VHF radios). All U.S. Coast Guard station numbers up
the coast should be made available to all participants in the information
book, laminated card and programmed on their satellite phones.
Fourth: If Lessons One & Two are followed, there should be little
reason to ever require Coast Guard rescue. However, in the event of injury
or unrecoverable boat breakdown (dismasting or catastrophic hull failure),
the safety equipment list as required by the GT300 rules is perfectly
sufficient to get you rescued from almost any predicament as long as
you are not separated from the boat. I was, briefly, and had my reunion
not been so fortuitous, this would be a very different story. Still,
we didn’t carry anything we did not use (except mirror and whistles)
nor need anything we weren’t carrying (except possibly a knife).
There should be a VHF radio and a GPS on each sailor, sat phone on each
boat. Personal Epirb will save you if you get separated and swimming
Fifth: We kept all our safety equipment (in individual watertight bags),
8 power bars per sailor and spare water in one sturdy mesh safety equipment
bag accessible from bottom of tramp if turtled, top of tramp if not,
by tying a knot through a grommet in the tramp. We could un-tie the knot
from below and hold onto the rope until we had a good hold of the bag
and not have to try to get access to the bag under water. This is good
thinking. All our safety water is in the hulls which would be hard to
get if the boat is turtle.
Sixth: The aluminum clam cleats mounted on our harness spreader bars
combined with fore and aft chicken lines sucked up into the rear cross
beam with a bungie system worked very well. A pain to rig but worth it.
Same for the Barz goggles, expensive but worth it.
Seventh: Don’t scrimp on the sunscreen for your face. I used the
cheap ass generic sunscreen on my face and it eventually made its way
into my eyes where it burned like muriatic acid. It’s impossible
to wash out and I was effectively blinded. I wasn’t the only one.
Aaron McCulley does a hysterical pantomime of trying to sail with sunscreen
in his eyes. It’s not so funny when it’s happening to you,
though. I wear a hat which allows me to keep sunscreen below my eyes
only. This in conjuction with a good waterproof brand put on well ahead
of the start has worked will for me.
Eighth: Don’t bring a bicycle. I don’t know if you’ve
ever been tempted to bring a bicycle and ride up the beach at South Padre
to try to find more interesting scenery than the fat Mexican kids who
seem to overpopulate the beach around the Tiki. I have and I did and
I found mile after mile of more fat Mexican kids. Plus, it was a pain
to have to load, unload and worry about a bicycle the whole time. It
seriously cut into my drinking time. Never again! Yes we are very strict
on bringing only essentials because of the hassle of keeping up with
everthing and space.
Ninth: If you must bring a propane tank and burner, make sure you tie
them very securely to the trailer. Our propane tank worked its way loose
on Terri’s first leg up to Mustang Island, fell off and dragged
along beneath the trailer for some time. The scratches very nearly went
all the way through to the gas. Had that happened, the sparks from the
metal would’ve set off an impressive fire and/or explosion. We
gave Terri quite enough to worry about without that. Okay there is a
new knot boy in town. I never heard the end of it after the time your
wheels flew off when I did not secure them well enough with your rotted
lines….ha ha! So now we are even! No, you will always be Knot
Boy! I remain Knot Man!
Tenth: Due to the warmth of the water, we were never in serious peril
as long as we were with the boat (and away from our propane tank and
trailer). We were warm, protected from the sun, adequately hydrated and
nourished, had life jackets, whistles and strobes. Exposure isn’t
really an issue in this event, except for sunburn. Which brings me to…
Lastly: Don’t piss off redheads. They tend to sunburn easily, learn
slowly, react unpredictably and their bright pink skin makes them testy
and short-tempered. Best to just stay away from them. [David Yoder and
Terri Reuwsaat excepted! They thrive on my constant positive reinforcement.]
That’s about it. This year was disappointing due to the fact that
we did not finish and you were not able to join us. Next year, we expect
you will be able to sail with us again and we will have learned from
our experience. Maybe that’s too much to ask; but at least you
will be sailing with us again! I will be back with you next year! I’m
looking forward to Ruff Riders!! Also, I am planning to make Sand Dunes.
GT Team Salva Vida Vela
by Bo Kersey
Drew Carlyle and I sailed the GT300 this year together for the first
time. Both of us have completed the race before, but it was Drew's
first time as helm and my first time as crew. Additionally, we raced
on the AHPC Capricorn F18 which has never been used for distance racing
in the United States.
The Capricorn performed flawlessly and only part that we had to replace
during the entire race was the number 2 batten which broke during a capsize
in the storm on the first day. The design of the boat, the simplicity
of the rigging and the quality of the build gave us confidence in all
of the conditions encountered during the race.
I am sure other less fortunate teams will cover the storm in more detail
since they really have nothing else to talk about after abandoning their
boats, but I will say that we learned some lessons about heavy weather
sailing during the storm. We had been running from the storm for a couple
of hours in the hope that we could make the first day finish before we
were hit. We were carrying the spinnaker with me on the wire and running
a bit deep so that we could keep both hulls in the water to prevent pitch
poling. I'd guess the wind was running about 15kts, the sky was getting
darker behind us and the seas getting a bit rougher. We were being driven
to shore and we could not make the finish without dropping the spinnaker.
However, we had plenty of room and were planning to drop the spinnaker
a few hundred yards short of the breakers near Packery Channel. All of
a sudden the temperature dropped by about 20 degrees and we knew we had
to get the spinnaker down before we were knocked down. We did not get
the spinnaker down in time and we were knocked down when we were hit
by a 40kt gust. The boat was on its side but we swung the bows into the
wind and were in no danger of turtling. We doused the spinnaker, released
the sheets and righted the boat. Drew was able to hop on the boat as
it was righting. I normally have some trouble getting back on the boat
at the front beam but this time the waves were steep enough that I was
almost thrown on the boat as a wave went by. We kept the boat head to
wind for a few minutes while we checked the boat and made sure all the
lines were clear. The next challenge was turning down wind towards the
finish line. We headed off the wind a bit to gain some speed and then
started easing the main sheet and heading down. We headed dead down wind
with the main sheet still eased. A gust hit us as we we were surfing
down a wave and lifted the rudders out of the water and we we rounded
up. That is the first time I have ever had a catamaran round up like
that. We attempted to gather our wits and prepared to head down again.
We followed the same procedure as before and we were hauling butt downwind
toward the finish. As we were climbing the back side of a wave we were
hit by another gust and the rudders were again lifted out of the water.
In fact, the rudders went over our heads in the most perfect pitch pole
I have ever seen. We were in the water again and the boat was on its
side. We climbed up on the lower hull keeping the mast facing into the
wind to prevent turtling and rested and considered our options. We were
being pushed towards the finish line at over 5kts. There was little risk
to us or the boat so we decided to wait until the wind was consistently
below 30kts before righting the boat. As I was sitting on the boat thinking,
I realized that the mistake we had made while sailing down wind was to
ease the main and travel out. In normal conditions, we would want to
present as much sail to the wind as possible. However, in these conditions,
centering the traveler and sheeting in after we turned down was the safest
course of action. So, we waited for the wind to die down and rested while
discussing this new strategy. After about 45 minutes, we righted the
boat and tried our new strategy and it worked. The problem that we had
was that we had waited too long and we were caught in the calm after
the storm. So we lost at least an hour getting to the finish.
The highlight of our race was the last day. The day started very light
and stayed that way. Since the Capricorn's spinnaker seemed to be a bit
fuller than the other F18s and because Drew and I are at minimum weight,
we thought we had a good chance to win this leg. We had practiced launching
from the beach with the spinnaker up and we knew that this was the day
to do it. We expected the other teams to do the other teams to do the
same, however we checked with Corey and Pete from Team Corpus to make
sure they were going to do the same. We really didn't want to head down
on them and foul them. The confirmed that they were launching with their
spinnaker up and we did the same. We got off the beach with a great start
and were in the lead group. However, Aaron McCulley and Clay Cassard,
were pulling away from us. We were following the teams that were ahead
of us and driving away from the beach to generate speed and then gybing
back into the beach periodically in an attempt to take advantage of the
higher winds near the beach. The winds were so light that we were gybing
through about 150 degrees which meant that when we were headed back to
the beach we were actually going away from the finish line. Drew and
I discussed the situation and decided that if we could figure out how
to gybe less than the other teams, we could win the leg. So our goal
was to maintain speed while heading as deep as possible. In order to
get the windward hull out of the water and to get the boat to the right
attitude, I handed the spinnaker sheet to Drew and got down on the leeward
hull with my entire body in front of the front beam. Drew was sitting
on the trampoline next to the front beam driving and sheeting the spinnaker.
With this setup we were able to drive down on every puff and avoid gybing
which allowed us to walk away from the rest of the F18 fleet. As the
day progressed, we were able to build our lead on the fleet, but we were
watching them very closely. We are not used to being out in front, so
we were a bit nervous.
A month before the GT300, we learned a bit about covering. We were in
the lead in the final race of Long Neck Regatta and were in a position
to win the regatta but we failed to cover the second place boat which
was about half the course behind us. We sailed into a hole and were stuck
there. We watched the second place boat cross the finish and win the
regatta because we failed to cover.
After our lesson at Long Neck, we knew that we had to cover the boats
behind us. The wind was picking up, but it was not steady so we were
alternating between sitting on the boat to single trapped to double trapped
and back again. We were watching John Tomko and Ian Billings very closely.
They were next to the breakers and making ground on us. At this point
we had abut 10 miles to go and we had to hold them off until the finish.
Instead of reaching for speed and heading offshore, we knew that we had
to cover them. So, we sailed a bit deep and allowed the puffs to drive
us towards the shore. There is nothing like have John and Ian driving
on you to make you concentrate. My eyes still have the silhouette of
the spinnaker tell tales burned on the retinas from focusing on trimming
the spinnaker. The closer we got to the finish line, the closer John
and Ian got to us. It was nerve racking, but we were still going down
the the beach to cover them. At the finish after 40 miles of sailing
and 10 miles of covering we finished the leg 1 second before John and
Ian. This was certainly the highlight of our race. After we finished,
I still could not believe it.
The GT300 is the best race we do all year. The sportsmanship displayed
by all the competitors and the camaraderie on and off the race course
make the GT300 a must do regatta.