Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Pretty cool getting the first glimpses of the new Figaro. Looks fun to sail!

What happened in the last year then?

This blog probably looked pretty dead. In my mind it's still been rolling and Kraken has still been sailing and racing. Over the last year a LOT has happened and the blog stopped updating because I wanted to get my head down and write a proper piece, a concept that never happened.

Here's the summary:

CYC Fall Regatta (2016)
I don't remember us doing too well but we learnt a lot about the course that stood us in good stead and had some fun doing it. Typically a tricky race to get crew for as it competes with the Little Ensenada race.

Of note was me hitting the dock on arrival at CYC. Put the engine in reverse and it threatened to jump out of the boat. I wasn't going fast but it took me some moments to jump off the boat to stop it and we kissed the dock. On inspection I'd picked up a line on the prop which cut away easily and the engine ran fine but the damage was already done.... More on this in a bit....

SDYC Hot Rums (2016)
We had our best Hot Rum series yet. Overall about 50th out of 130 boats with a best result of 24th and learning a lot more about the course (also a long way ahead of the local boats while running a cruising main and in one race a 12 year old spinnaker that we've abused badly in practices.

Seemed to be a lot of water in the grid on arrival home. Perhaps a bucket and a half.

SDYC Mid Winters (2017)
2nd place, by about five points. We lost the regatta on the first lap where we blew a clear lead at the leeward mark oh wait where are the other boats going crap that's a gate we just went around the wrong way. We recovered but in the final race had to give up pinning Adeline (which was tricky - they were faster than us upwind) to the layline in order to cover Adventure and protect 2nd. Good practice for the NOODs though.

Seemed to be a lot of water in the grid on arrival home. Several buckets.

I taped of parts of the grid to try and work out where and when this water was coming in. Sitting at the dock there is no ingress.

Pre NOODs practice (2017)
With a fantastic crew lined up for the NOODs I was pretty pumped up. The last bit of upwind speed might have been there with some more adjustments and a new Genoa. The boat was lighter than ever before, completely in One Design mode. Our practice didn't have the full race crew on board but close and was solid. We were ready.

A couple of buckets of water in the grid, seemingly more in the aft end but hard to tell.

All is stopped (DON'T SINK THE BOAT).
At this point I set hard to tracking down the leak. Thru hulls looked okay, saildrive gasket okay, water lines okay. After several lunchtimes spent nosing around I found something pretty shocking. With the engine in gear at the dock - in forwards (not reverse) - I could see a crack around the base of the engine mount and water was coming in fast. The crack was about 12" long and ran down both sides from the forward port corner where the mount joins the hull.

Crap. Crap. Crap.

With two weeks to the NOODs this didn't look good.

I called in the Oceanside Yard and they concurred. Not looking good.

Race over.

We came up with a plan (I'm going to make another post about the full fix). Pull the boat. Prise or cut the engine mount off. Clean it up. Clean up the hull. Retab it together only stronger than before.

And that's what we did.

Missed the NOODs and with Oceanside Boatyard being a small place with one glasser the two weeks of work needed for Kraken spread out as other shorter jobs came in and pushed the schedule. We missed the Yachting Cup and wasted another great team by about two days. And there went my target for the year which had been to win the San Diego high points trophy (being a target doesn't mean we'd have done that, it would have been hard, but we had a chance).

Back on the water - The Elizabeth Hospice Regatta (2017)
This was the first time we'd hosted the fleet at Kraken's home club at OYC. Six boats made the line and we sailed with a fairly mixed up crew. Hard on new people to be pushed to perform at the front of the fleet and hard on equipment. On the first day we were saved by Steve Ernest, he really steadied the boat and on day two Kathy and injured but awesome Kelly came on to help save the weekend. Another second place in the regatta to Adeline ( grrr :) ) but with three bullets the most we've taken in a weekend and a positive sign to work on.

An awesome weekend again, some great racing, blue skies.

For one race a helicopter was flying overhead taking shots. It was of course our WORST race of the weekend (Results out of 6 boats 5,11,6,1).

I do however love this shot mid tack.


Things heating up now. We're back together and proved we can float. I started working on crew for the...

The Beneteau Cup 2017 - West Coast Championship
Another great crew lined up but a tricky regatta for us with the second day being in the tidal flow of local knowledge central San Diego Harbor (as opposed to offshore). We have a couple of crew members who have started racing beer cans in San Diego so our knowledge was growing but still....

The plan was to hit it out of the park on day 1, then cover our main opposition on day two. Didn't quite work out that way.

On the way down there was some breeze so I switched over to sailing somewhere off La Jolla. When raising the genoa it wouldn't run. Lying on my back on the deck with binoculars I could see half a sheave with the halyard jammed down the side.

Getting on the phone to Rigworks we got lucky - they had a spare sheave of the right dimensions and could leave it in a drop box for me. In actual fact I made it to their shop before closing - COOL shop! Next morning I skipped the skippers meeting to climb the mast but it turned out you can't swap the sheaves without removing the headstay (actually, when I completed this repair you only have to disconnect the headstay at the bottom there's then enough play to move it out of the way).

So we replaced the spin 1 (starboard side) halyard with a 3/8 line and used that instead. With gusts up to 15kts we ran the halyard soft on day 1 and were off the pace but with a 3,2,2 finish (out of 7) managed to lead the pack by a point.

Next day we said whatever let's apply full pressure and see what we can do. On the first upwind we got the start we wanted, hit the flow upwind tacked back between the buildings and just snuck a great layline for the top mark. This involved hitting the seawall at a point between the buildings and having found it we used that spot again and again all day.

Upwind speed was on the money. Downwind speed was great too. More pole back than normal with a large and flat looking kite we were finally fast in flat water.

The only mistake was losing the lead in race two because I decided to try and finish on lap one of a two lap race. A messed up bottom rounding from the two boats that got ahead though and we "Nascared" our way back into the lead and a solid pair of the bullets for the day.

And became the West Coast Champions for 2017. With a fancy trophy for OYC to put somewhere for the year.

A Beneteau Cup Day 2 (231 of 262)

The CYC Fall Regatta 2017

And here we are nearly up to date. Despite losing a couple of regulars to the Little Ensenada race we managed to fill in with some great people and keep the complete trim team from the Beneteau Cup success. Terrie came back from injury to do pit, John Wilson and Brian Frest came on to do the front of the boat and we got pit and foredeck together for a practice to work out the kinks.

Watching the crew lists come in from the other boats I got excited. This was going to be a

Seeing the crew sheets come in and the weather forecast running hot and cold over the weekend it was obvious this was going to be a hard and close contest. With Kea back in the fleet the top boat was back. Adeline had been missing their normal Helm (Bob) and bow (Nick) for the Beneteau Cup and would be back in the groove, Melokia had a new set of sails (much needed!) and Jon Gardner to call tactics and all the other boats have been looking fast as the fleet compresses. This was going to be a fight.

Day I
Day one we waited for the breeze to fill. I took a snooze below, John took a swim, we ate cookies and watched the breeze all around Southbay until suddenly it made it to the course and we were off!

Light winds in South Bay make me nervous. Pressure is king and can dissipate poof! John did a great job of keeping us in the hunt and we finished the first race second to Kea by a boat length.

The second race we finished the first lap in third but got super lucky. We hit the inside of a hole and all the boats on our side (five of the eight) were deeper in it. The two boats that had taken the other side missed how slow we were and passed clear ahead but aimed deep into the hole. We took the side they'd come down on and when it resolved itself had gone from third to half a leg ahead of the rest. This is something Kea likes to do from time to time but was the first time we'd done it in One Design. We should have taken a picture.

The third race went to Adeline, Kea second and us third leaving us tied with Kea on 6, and Adeline in third on 10.

Day II....
Day two started differently. Winds up to 16kts as we sniffed around the course getting a feel for how it was covered. It was fairly consistent above 14 and sections of 18 so we hit the #3 headsail (everyone did) and switched to heavier spinnaker sheets.

With gusts and shifts hitting us and the downwind having a big barrier of the start finish line just above the gate the first race involved a fair amount of just keeping it together on the downwind.

We were powered up and looking at our tracks on raceQs were hitting 9kts SOG going across the tidal flow.

Finished second, a boat length behind Kea.

Race five we had some miscommunication on the start and I was slow hitting the gas. Melokia grabbed a clear lead at the windward mark and while we got there ahead of Kea we were on port and had to give them room at the mark. I slammed the tack a bit and we were in a solid third around the offset.

We survived to the bottom gate again but blew our last gybe and in the struggle to recover overstood losing more ground. Terrie turned around and I could see she thought we'd blown it.

Heads down in the boat we split tacks and sailed in clean air. Lost some ground in a wiggle up the course and had a couple of bad tacks but were a close fourth to the lead group at the top mark but more importantly with a plan in hand.

With the boats in front all messing with each other, and the strong winds we took an early jibe and sailed our own race. Just clearing the restricted start finish we hit two perfect laylines to the bottom mark and snuck it in first place inches in front of Kea who had made their way around Melokia.

It was such a sight coming in with three boats barrelling hard at us but nowhere to go and the time and space to make a tactical rounding which we consolidated by pinching until Kea was under us and trapped. We took them out past the layline tacking only when I became worried about the bullet from the other boats who had split.

Second bullet of the weekend and with it the regatta win, tied on points with Kea as we both had a third, two seconds and two firsts - the last race results proving the tiebreaker.

The top four places in that race were split by about 12 seconds.


And Breathe.

And that's where we're at. Fighting at the pointy end for now. A good fleet. Lots of sharing of information. I know that the other skippers are making plans to make life harder next time. I'm starting to make plans to meet that challenge. Depending on who gets what crew on which day, or who blinks and makes the biggest mistake anything could happen.

Which is part of why I bought Kraken in the first place.

CYC Winners, Scores and a Big Grin.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Back to new boats - Vendee Globe

So Alex bust his starboard foil shortly after I last posted about the VG. While there are rumors that he has a spare and we haven't seen the damage he definitely slowed down here and there.

This has evolved into between Hugo Boss and Armel Le Cleac'h's Banque Populaire who has been holding a narrow (10-20nm) lead for the last couple of days.

At the moment they are blasting along on port but about to hit starboard tack again (the weather in the above image is at +3hrs).

At which point Hugo Boss will be foiling again. Watch this to see how excited Alex is with the idea...

Yes that's right, VERY.

100 years strong and still going strong

And still quite stunning!

Friday, November 18, 2016

New Boats - Vendee Globe Week Two.

This is a really nice summary of the first couple of weeks of the Vendee.

I'm really happy to see Alex leading the race. He comes over as a really nice guy and fingers crossed that his boat holds together through the pounding coming their way as they enter the southern ocean.

If you're not a sailor and you're reading this these guys are racing, solo, around the world. This will take several months and is a massive test of the boat, their minds and their bodies. These boats are stripped of all comforts and full of technology. They are lightened to the max and the skippers have to coach them through the oceans. Once the winds are above 20 knots they are often reducing power to the maximum level they think the boats can take.

When things go wrong, which they do all the time, they have to fix them. They try and do this while keeping the boat going at the highest speed they can for the situation.

They are technicians, tacticians and endurance athletes of the highest level. They have to change massive sails in the dark while pounding the oceans after weeks of little sleep.

Their teeth get knocked out, they break bones, they stitch themselves up and keep going if they can.

Condolences to Tanguy, I've enjoyed his prior races and it's sad to see him forced out so early.

Props to Hugo Boss for their continued sponsorship and just how smart their boat looks!

Weekly Highlights #2 : Welcome on the highroad... by VendeeGlobeTV

Friday, November 11, 2016

Old Boats

With the Vendee Globe hotting up its nice to look back to some older designs.

The helm balance struck me on this, something I struggle with on Kraken who requires a lot of work from the main trimmer to keep her on her feet.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Vendée Globe foiling on Hugo Boss

With the Vendée Globe underway now this talk about Hugo Bosses foils - actually their original design after issues with their second attempt - has some extra relevance.

Watching the start I was pretty impressed at the steep heel angles of the lead boats and while the southern oceans should be downwind and all about boat structural stability I wonder if Boss' ability to sail flatter upwind will be a boon for Alex's fatigue levels during the race.

With awesome race tracking, new foiling tech and a track history in great public relations - lots of skippers interviews and feedback this race is one of the best long distance races to track and this iteration is one of the most fascinating yet.

Will the foilers speed to the finish or shake their boats and skippers to pieces????