CABB Millennium Cup Distance Race
Jan 30, 2011
Biscayne Bay, Miami, FL
By John McKnight, JMcKnight76@aol.com
Remind me never to schedule a CABB race the same day as the ING Miami Marathon. Just getting to the Rickenbacker Causeway was a major chore since the only road leading there was blocked by the marathon course. Those of us who trailered our boats to the beach had to wait for 30 minutes in creepy crawly traffic to cross Bay Shore Drive, just to get to the causeway. The traffic marshals would only let a few cars cross the marathon course when there was a break between runners, and there weren't many breaks. The runners kept coming and coming. That was the worst part of the day, the rest was fantastic.
We got to use our new catamaran launch beach for the first time. The new Cat Beach is fantastic. The Rickenbacker Causeway has been under construction for the better part of two years. We have had to scramble to find places to launch our boats. It has been a monthly hassle just to get to the water. Those worries are now over. The new Cat Beach can accommodate 10 or more cats. The beach is roped off from regular beach goers. We can now just drop the rope and back down on to the beach to rig and launch. We loved it. The beach is very clean. Access to the water is just perfect. There are seven long parking spots just across the access road from the launch beach for parking vehicles and trailers. While the parking spots are not yet reserved by signs, we were still able to park there when the spots opened up while we were rigging. We have been waiting and working toward this facility for over 10 years. Naomi Sarasola originally came up with the idea of a reserved Cat Beach 10 years ago. We campaigned with the county for over a year to secure a launch beach, but the idea, at that time, got rejected. When I heard two years ago that the county was going to totally revamp the causeway, I went to them once again with the concept of a dedicated catamaran launch beach. This time they bought the idea wholeheartedly. Naomi's vision has finally come to fruition. The next time you see Naomi, give her a big hug. This was her baby.
We had six boats show up for the day's race. I think participation was down because of the hassles with the marathon and the yet unknown launch beach. But those who showed up to race had a good time. We had two Hobie 20s, a Prindle 19, a Hobie 16, an F-16 Falcon, and a Nacra 5.8 participating in the race. Peter King was sailing his brand new F-16 Falcon with Chris Stater. Peter is new to the CABB races, and we hope to see him out as a regular participant. Lenny Valdivia and Saramy Fuentes were sailing their Hobie 20. Emiliano Oddo and Oscar Garcia Coni were on the Nacra 5.8. Norm Hansen and Coop Cooper were on the Hobie 16. Jofre Rosero was soloing his Prindle 19. I was sailing with Coqui Lopez for the first time on my Hobie 20.
The race for the day was a large 13 mile triangle defined by marker 21 near Stiltsville, a marker near Matheson Hammock Park, and the Cat Beach. We kept the course short because we only had 8 knots of wind at the start. The King/Stater F-16 took an early lead after the start. The winds were out of the northeast and that allowed the Falcon to use its spinnaker on the first leg. Coqui and I stayed close behind tacking downwind. Lenny and Jofre were duking it out for third and fourth place. After rounding marker 21 we were still off the wind, and the F-16 was able to carry its chute, but we made up some ground on them. After the Matheson mark we were able to barely overtake the sleek F-16, our speeds were almost perfectly matched. About that time the winds dropped off to 3 knots, and we were just ghosting along. The bay is only about 10 feet deep, and we were able to watch the bottom vegetation slip under the bows. Looking straight down, the water and bottom were a delicious emerald green. Looking out to the side, the water was an amazing aqua blue. Looking up we saw brilliant blue sky with puffy white cumulus clouds at the lower altitudes and wispy cirrus clouds up higher. The sky was crisscrossed with contrails of high altitude airplanes heading south to the Caribbean. It was a gorgeous day for sailing, and the bay was full of sailboats of every ilk imaginable.
We split tacks with the F-16. He was continuing north and I wanted to go east. I was hoping that when the wind filled in again it would be more easterly. The forecast had been for northeast going toward the east as the day wore on. I was remembering the old racing adage that if the wind is going right, you need to go right. That gives you a header initially but provides a lift when you tack again. That all worked exactly as prescribed. When the wind filled in, it was more out of the east. We had made huge gains on the F-16 and were laying the finish line. The winds continued to build and build; we were double trapezing as we approached the finish area. Coqui and I were the first crew to finish in 3 hours and 36 minutes. The King/Stater F-16 was 9 minutes behind us. Lenny's Hobie 20 was only a minute behind the F-16. The Cooper/Hansen H-16 finished in 4 hours and 15 minutes. The other two boats took a DNF and a DSQ for outside help. Jofre's P-19 had sprung a leak and was taking on water in the starboard hull. Fellow cat sailor, Ivan Loya, was out with his skiff taking pictures, and he towed Jofre's crippled P-19 when the wind died. When the winds picked up, Jofre was able to make a go of it by himself without the tow. He used the extra weight in the starboard hull to hold the boat down on the starboard tack to the beach.
It was a good day of racing. Coqui and I took first place. Surprisingly, the Cooper/Hansen Hobie 16 corrected into second place. Lenny and Saramy brought their H-20 home to third place and the King/Stater F-16 corrected into fourth place. If you would like to see some pictures taken after the race, you can see them on the CABB Facebook page. Do a search on Facebook for "Catamaran Association of Biscayne Bay - Florida."
If you haven't tried the new Cat Beach, give it a try. You will like it, guaranteed. I figure we had better use it now that we have it. I would hate for them to think we are not using it and turn it into something else for lack of use by the cats. If you get a transponder account with the causeway, it is only $3 to access the causeway towing your boat. Without a transponder, it is $9 to bring your boat to the beach. You can pick up the transponder at the toll plaza office which is right beside the toll booths. They are open during normal business hours during the week. See you next month.