Nov. 2, 2010
Long Beach to Cabo San Lucas International Yacht Race
804 nautical miles
Starts Nov. 6, 2010
Organized by Long Beach Yacht Club, Long Beach, Calif.
Akela on hunt for Long Beach-Cabo record
LONG BEACH, Calif.
Akela, the great gray Lone Wolf, who led all the pack by strength and cunning . . .
—Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book
The wolf is on the prowl again, about to lead a compact and aggressive pack of hungry sailors in Long Beach Yacht Club's biennial race to Cabo San Lucas.
Likely, Akela will be hungry for victory or a record or anything, perhaps, after three days of freeze-dried food.
The race starts Saturday at noon from Belmont Pier in the Long Beach outer harbor and measures 804 nautical miles to the tip of the Baja California peninsula. Admission to the pier is free for spectators to wave adios from the pier and wish Akela skipper Doug Baker good luck in his quest to fill a missing link in his offshore racing resume.
The list picks up from Magnitude 80, the Andrews 80 turbo sled Baker formerly sailed, and includes elapsed time records for the Newport to Ensenada race, Marina del Rey to Puerto Vallarta, Los Angeles to Tahiti, both alternating Coastal Cup records from San Francisco to Santa Barbara and Santa Catalina Island—and he almost had this one two years ago.
But early on Day 2 Mag 80 went from a runaway lead to nada in the instant it takes a mast to crash. That left the door to the record open to Peter Tong's Santa Cruz 70, OEX, in 2 days 22 hours 50 minutes 9 seconds.
Baker last year donated Mag 80 to the Orange Coast College School of Sailing and Seamanship and now races Akela, a supercharged Reichel/Pugh 78 formerly called Scout Spirit that he charters from Bill Turpin and David Janes. Akela is not quite as fast as Magnitude 80, but last February it claimed the record from San Diego to Vallarta.
Baker figures that Mag 80 was "about three-tenths to half a knot faster" than Akela, which may not sound like much.
"But in an offshore race even a couple tenths is quite a bit," he said. "The boat's still plenty fast. It's just not that high-tech a boat. It doesn't have a canting keel or some of the features but it's still a good, fast boat. Oh, yeah, with the right conditions we can get the record. It just depends on how everything unfolds."
That depends largely on his navigator, Ernie Richau, who plotted all of the previous record romps, and a veteran crew where "everybody does everything," Baker said.
Richau has been spending the last couple of weeks studying projections on the weather, which seem to be generally encouraging.
Richau said, "This year we've had a lot of fast-moving fronts going through Southern California. This week we're having that warmer weather with the little offshore breeze, and there's another front approaching the race course right about Saturday, the day we start. Then it's a matter of how far south the front actually comes. If it's farther north we'll have more of a northwesterly breeze."
The boats' speed ratings are tight enough to give all five some hope to finish first, given the usual potential of gear-busting squalls, tricky winds, faulty "naviguessing" and, of course, masts falling down.
In 2008 the first five finishers arrived in about three days within a span of about 4 1/2 hours. This year their PHRF Off-Wind ratings show a conservative spread from Akela's minus-120 seconds per mile to minus-87 seconds for Brack Duker's SC 70, Holua, and Per Peterson's Andrews 68, Alchemy, projecting a real-time span of about 7 1/2 hours for the fleet.
Bob Lane's Andrews 63, Medicine Man, rates in the middle at minus-99---but also broke the old record less than two hours behind OEX in 2008.
Then there is Vincitore, Ricardo Brockmann's Reichel/Pugh 52 from Acapulco, as something of a wild card---not to be confused with a Transpac 52, several of which it defeated in winning the top class in San Francisco's Big Boat Series the last two years. It is by far the smallest boat but is rated the second fastest at minus-102. Brockmann bought the boat from Jim Mitchell after racing on it in San Francisco this summer.
Vincitore's crew will include his two sons, Ricardo Jr., 24, and Erik, 21, and the veteran Robbie Haines. It could be the boat for the wolf to watch.
Besides Baker and Richau, Akela's crew is Matt Reynolds, Keith Kilpatrick, Chad Hough, Steve Dodd, Chris Hamel, Erik Mayol, Chris Carson, Eric Fisher, Mike Van Dyke and Mike Elias.
"Everybody drives, trims, grinds," Baker said. "I go back East and all you do is grind, trim, and you have certain guys who do the driving. I try to do it like a team where everybody participates in everything. I'll do some trimming and grinding … a little bit. One guy [Hamel] does the cooking, such as it is.
"Dinner is freeze-dried with a salad. We'll have some kind of sandwich for lunch and fruit and rolls for breakfast, so it's not a very hard job … just boiling water.
"There's a lot of laughing and scratching … there isn't any yelling. You keep your focus on but you try to interact with the other people and try to enjoy yourself. That's what you're out there for."
Everybody will be able to track the boats' positions continuously by iBoat with a two-hour delay to protect tactical security. Also, by 8 a.m. PDT each day each boat must report its 7 a.m. PDT position to the race communications officer, who will forward the positions and standings to all boats.
A sendoff party is scheduled Thursday, 6 p.m., at Long Beach YC, featuring the introduction of 2010 Long Beach-to-Cabo race apparel. Reservations may be made at 562.598.9401.
(with PHRF Off-Wind handicap times in seconds per mile)
Akela (Reichel/Pugh 78/minus-120), Doug Baker, Long Beach, Calif.
Alchemy (Andrews 68/minus-87), Per Peterson, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
Holua (Santa Cruz 70/minus-87), Brack Duker, Marina del Rey, Calif.
Medicine Man (Andrews 63/minus-99), Bob Lane, Long Beach, Calif.
Vincitore (Reichel/Pugh 52/minus-102), Ricardo Brockmann, Acapulco, Mexico
Race information and visit to the Long Beach Yacht Club
Downloadable hi-res photo gallery
1. OEX, Peter Tong, Long Beach YC, 2 days 22 hours 50 minutes 9 seconds (course record).
2. Medicine Man, Bob Lane, LBYC, 3:00:48:15.
3. Grand Illusion, Ed McDowell, King Harbor YC, 3:00:53:30.
4. Holua, Brack Duker, California YC, 3:01:14:42.
5. Alchemy, Per Peterson, Oceanside YC, 3:04:20:07.
6. Cheetah, Chris Slagerman, South Bay Yacht Racing Club, 3:19:56:54.
7. Magnitude 80, Doug Baker, LBYC, retired.
Overall on corrected handicap time
1. Grand Illusion, 2:21:58:33.
2. OE X, 2:22:07:39.
3. Holua, 2:22:49:40.
4. Medicine Man, 3:01:10:05.
5. Alchemy, 3:01:48:58.
6. Cheetah, 03:13:36:14.
Overall on corrected handicap time
1. Grand Illusion, 2:07:42:38.
2. Holua, 2:09:04:10.
3. OEX, 2:09:10:03.
4. Medicine Man, 2:15:27:30.
5. Cheetah, 2:21:58:51
(Alchemy chose not to be scored under ORR)
Akela in front, but record may be a struggle
LONG BEACH, Calif.
Doug Baker's Akela, the biggest and fastest boat in the fleet, led the way out of town in Long Beach Yacht Club's biennial race to Cabo San Lucas Saturday, and then the tricky part started.
Although a chart shows the course running slightly east of south directly down to the tip of Mexico's Baja California peninsula, the 804 nautical miles are filled with enough subtleties of weather to challenge the best navigators in the world.
That's why Brack Duker brought Adrienne Cahalan up from Australia again to find the best way for his Santa Cruz 70, Holua, to go, as she has done for others in four Volvo (formerly Whitbread) world ocean races, 18 Sydney-Hobarts and a round-the-world speed record for the late Steve Fossett's monstrous Cheyenne catamaran.
So what did Cahalan think after studying the weather prospects before the start?
"We're not looking at more than 14 knots of [wind]," she said, "with the wind [from the] southeast before it goes southwest and we run with it."
That's not what Akela's navigator, Ernie Richau, wanted to hear after anticipating conditions earlier in the week that would allow the Reichel/Pugh 78 to break OEX's race record of 2 days 22 hours 50 minutes 9 seconds set in the previous race in 2008 when Baker's Magnitude 80 lost its mast on the second day. But he had to agree.
A few minutes before the start Richau said, "It's not looking like a record now."
Three hours after the start Akela was in front but, according to tracking by iBoat, averaging 10.8 knots---too slow for the record.
But after their bad luck two years ago, the Akela guys weren't taking any chances from the start.
On a Long Beach postcard day---clear blue sky with puffy white clouds on the horizon, 76 degrees F. and 9-10 knots of south breeze just teasing whitecaps---the race committee set a line off Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier the length of a football field but square to the wind, not to the course.
That drew every boat except Akela to the pin (left) end of the line, closer to the exit from the outer harbor between the east end of the breakwater and Island Chaffee. Akela instead trailed the other four boats up the line, then took a higher course with clear sailing that put them in front well before exiting the bay.
Bob Lane's Andrews 63, Medicine Man, did the opposite. After a so-so start that left them in the others' bad air, they bore away slightly offwind into clear breeze and picked up a puff that allowed them to clear the island and fall into step with Akela toward the horizon.
Meanwhile, Ricardo Brockmann's R/P 52 Vincitore (translation: Victory) from Acapulco, led everybody across the start line but steadily fell behind everyone, including Holua and Per Peterson's Andrews 68, Alchemy.
The boats' positions may be tracked continuously by iBoat with a two-hour delay to protect tactical security. Also, by 8 a.m. PDT each day each boat must report its 7 a.m. PDT position to the race communications officer, who will forward the positions and standings to all boats.
Three hours after the start, Akela was tracked at 771.9 nautical miles from the finish, averaging 10.8 knots, followed by Medicine Man, less than two miles behind at 773.5; Alchemy, 774.8; Holua, 774.7, and Vincitore, 776.0.
(Positions at 3 p.m. Saturday; PHRF Off-Wind handicap times in seconds per mile)
1. Akela (Reichel/Pugh 78/minus-120), Doug Baker, Long Beach, Calif., 771.9 miles to go.
2. Medicine Man (Andrews 63/minus-99), Bob Lane, Long Beach, Calif., 773.5.
3. Holua (Santa Cruz 70/minus-87), Brack Duker, Marina del Rey, Calif., 774.7.
4. Alchemy (Andrews 68/minus-87), Per Peterson, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., 774.8.
5. Vincitore (Reichel/Pugh 52/minus-102), Ricardo Brockmann, Acapulco, Mexico, 776.0.
Video of start
Race information and visit to the Long Beach Yacht Club
Downloadable hi-res photo gallery
Big air birds, little sea birds lift Cabo race spirits
LONG BEACH, Calif.
It's not the fastest of Long Beach Yacht Club's biennial race to Cabo San Lucas, but it's been interesting.
Akela, the leader from the start, was still in first place despite going slower than anyone else---at least according to official position reports---while the last three boats---Alchemy, Holua and Vincitore, in that order---remained within five nautical miles of one another off the Baja California peninsula enjoying a private air show by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier that stretched the length of the fleet.
Meanwhile, Medicine Man was sailing a different race, cruising in the middle of the 50-mile separation and clocking the top speed of all at 11.3 knots to Akela's 9.6.
But the dismal speed numbers for Doug Baker's Reichel/Pugh 78---8.7 knots in the official position reports Sunday morning and 9.6 on the iBoat tracking site at mid-day---weren't reflected in navigator Ernie Richau's upbeat e-mail report, suggesting that the chase for OEX's race record of 2 days 22 hours 50 minutes 9 seconds set in the previous race in 2008 wasn't out of reach despite the early slow going.
Then there were the friendly dolphins escorting the racers and the cheery little Warbler hitching a ride on Holua, while Alchemy's crew was already making post-race social plans in Cabo that might include a natal celebration.
Details are in the unofficial but entertaining e-mails from the boats below.
E-mail from the boats
Sunday, 1:46 p.m.
We are now sailing in a 12-15kn W-NW wind under clear skies and smooth seas. It is very pleasant sailing out here. We are about 25nm off Punta San Elmo which is 170nm north of Cedros.
We have a visitor just now who must have been blown off course and has settled on deck for a rest. [Skipper] Brack [Duker] recognizes the little bird as a little Warbler, but he is unsure which species of Warbler. He/she is sitting on a winch taking a rest before it flies away later on.
The fleet got away well yesterday but overnight Alchemy, Vincitore and ourselves got stuck in a couple of wind pot holes while the two front runners seemed to keep the wind, gybe inshore and sail away from us. It is a close race between the three of us and plenty of sailing left to go, so it should be a good race to the finish in the next few days.
The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vincent passed us this morning doing practice takeoffs and landings, and the crew said this was very impressive to see. ---Adrienne Cahalan
Sunday, 11:54 a.m.
We had a great day yesterday getting out of California and into Mexican waters. The weather was partly cloudy, warm with the wind at about 8 knots from the south west. During the middle of the night, off of Ensenada, we had an interesting encounter with a navy aircraft carrier. They were launching fighter jets off their deck. It was pitch black out with no moon and they really lit up the sky as they left the deck of the ship.
We also had a good roll call report this morning. It appears that there was a little more wind inside of our competitors and our position really paid off. Let's see if we can keep it up for a few more days. ---Ernie Richau
Saturday, 11:58 p.m.
We got out of the start a lot faster than we predicted. We had great breeze on a near close-hauled course out past the breakwater and oil islands. Holua and we switched positions a few times until we were able to get the code 0 up and pulled a little on them. They then did two head to wind shots. We are not sure what went wrong but suspect it was a steering issue that they have now resolved.
We rolled Vincitore at the start and in the jib reaching they lost but have now caught up to us as we approach Point Loma. We are currently reaching along under code A1 at 10.5 knots in 9 knots of wind with Vincitore to leeward and Holua straight astern. Med Man and Akela were fairly close and within sight as it got dark.
So far the new code 0 sock worked perfect for the first hoist but not the second with Jay (zipper pull) Davis securing the purchase of the first round of drinks in Cabo by forgetting to pull the zipper car off, rendering it useless until the next trip. But not to be out done for buying drinks, Parker (salad dressing) Mitchell for dousing the deck with salad dressing to keep it nice and slick for the first night.
The boat is working well and going well and the crew is working great so far. We will be in Mexico in a few hours.
Sunday, 9:34 a.m.
Busy night with a few lead changes. We had about 5 hours of light 4 to 7 knots of wind. Holua crossed us twice and then we got inshore of them and got pressure and shift and are now about 3/4 mile ahead. Vincitore is just behind them.
It was a little nerve racking when the sun came up this morning and we could not see Holua. We were 7 miles outside them on port pole coming back in toward land. I am sure they are having an oh-xxxx moment now that we are back in sight of each other.
The temp was mild last night; I had to put shoes and a coat on but no need for rain gear. The sky has stayed almost 100% clear with a great meteor shower last night.
The wind is up to 11 knots and we are sailing at 9.5 at 150 true on Port gybe in an A2 [spinnaker] and staysail covering our position with Holua. We expect more breeze near land today [Sunday].
Patrick (betting the baby isn't early) Koranda is doing great and having a great time. Not to mention getting more sleep than he gets at home.
Lots of dolphins and one whale but nothing huge to report yet. ---Chuck Skewes
Positions at 7 a.m. PDT Sunday (official race times remain PDT despite time change); PHRF Off-Wind handicap times in seconds per mile.
1. Akela (Reichel/Pugh 78/minus-120), Doug Baker, Long Beach, Calif., 638 miles to go; average speed 8.7 knots; ETA Wednesday, 8:05 a.m. PDT.
2. Medicine Man (Andrews 63/minus-99), Bob Lane, Long Beach, Calif., 655 MTG; avg. speed 7.8k; ETA Wednesday, 6:40 p.m. PDT.
3. Alchemy (Andrews 68/minus-87), Per Peterson, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., 672 MTG; avg. speed 6.9k; ETA Thursday, 7:49 a.m. PDT.
4. Holua (Santa Cruz 70/minus-87), Brack Duker, Marina del Rey, Calif., 673 MTG; avg. speed 6.9k; Thursday, 8:32 a.m. PDT.
5. Vincitore (Reichel/Pugh 52/minus-102), Ricardo Brockmann, Acapulco, Mexico, 674 MTG; avg. speed 6.8k; Thursday, 9:56 a.m. PDT.
Akela battles an ornery ocean for the record
LONG BEACH, Calif.
To landlubbers, Long Beach Yacht Club's biennial race to Cabo San Lucas would appear to be a straightforward downwind run over a vast and lonely place, not an 804-nautical mile obstacle course. But as Akela led the fleet past the halfway point Monday there's been hardly a dull moment in its pursuit of the record.
The moonless nights have been shared with whales, dolphins, birds, various other sea life and even an aircraft carrier, and as if that weren't enough, some of the boats are playing tag team among themselves along the way.
Chuck Skewes, e-mailing from Per Petterson's Alchemy, an Andrews 68 from Oceanside YC, commented after a couple of nighttime near-misses with Brack Duker's Santa Cruz 70 Holua from Marina del Rey and Ricardo Brockmann's Reichel/Pugh 52 from Acapulco, "It is amazing that 400 miles down the course we are having super-tight racing."
That trio has been tap-dancing along from the start, swapping third place behind Akela and Bob Lane's Andrews 63, Medicine Man, whose 1-2 positions seemed secure.
But will No. 1 be good enough for Doug Baker? The Long Beach veteran who owns most of the significant West Coast sailing records and chartered Akela, a Reichel/Pugh 78, to go after this one won't go home happy with just a trophy.
When the race started last Saturday the prospects seemed bleak, but by Monday, according to mid-day tracking by iBoat, Akela was logging a top speed of 13.5 knots that with 313 miles to go looked touch and go to beat OEX's record of 2 days 22 hours 50 minutes 9 seconds. That speed could put it past the finish line off the beach from the Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Hotel one nautical mile east of Cabo Falso at the magic hour: 1:50:09 p.m. PDT Tuesday.
That is … if they can avoid serious pitfalls, like the encounter with a sunfish and kelp that navigator Ernie Richau described Monday in his message just below.
E-mail from the boats
Monday, 12:05 p.m. PST
We had another good 24 hours. The wind has been 15 to 22 knots from the northwest. Code 2 spinnaker running the whole time. Last night while Matt [Reynolds] and I were sitting at the chart table going over our race strategy we had a little excitement. We were going about 13 knots when suddenly we felt a big thud and slowed to about 10. Unfortunately, we had hit a huge sunfish. After a quick inspection we found no damage to Akela. I wish I could say the same for our friend in the sea but he was slow to swim away.
A few hours later, going about 18 knots, we ran into a small island of kelp. This created a bit of a yard sale on deck. There was so much kelp wrapped around the keel we immediately rounded up. After a bit of a fuss we got the kite down on deck, backed the boat down and were soon off sailing at 18 knots again. This was the second kite down, backdown and reset the kite in the last two days. We are hoping that it will be the last. ---Ernie Richau
Monday, 8:33 a.m. PST
Last night was a little more exciting than most nights out here in the ocean. We had 22 knots of wind for awhile and changed to the A4 for about an hour and then back to the A2. At about 11 p.m. we had a very close encounter with Holua. She had no nav lights and came out of the darkness and called starboard. We had to crash gybe in 20 knots to avoid. Took about 15 minutes to straighten out with an all-hands drill. Will [Stout] was on the foredeck in his underwear.
At 4 a.m. we came within a few feet of hitting a whale. It cleared the boat by about 4 feet and splashed the crew on deck. We have no moon and with some clouds it is extremely dark out. At about 5 this morning we had another close cross with Vincitore. They had to luff their kite to skate past our stern.
When the sun came up this morning we had gained a couple miles on them and they are now straight astern. I have lost count of the lead changes but I am sure Dave Ullman and Bruce Nelson on Holua know that they are one down on us. We are heading toward Cabo just south of Cedros in 15 knots of wind and pretty big swell. We have also had a lot of kelp and are now evaluating how to get one off the rudder.
We had dehydrated beef stroganoff last night for dinner and are into some similar treat tonight. We are killing the Captain Crunch! There are rumors of hot dogs for lunch.
Jay [Davis] spent about half an hour up the rig last night straightening out what was left from our surprise gybe and doing a little preventive maintenance on the top of the head foil. Everything is holding up well and the boat is going well. Maybe tonight we can keep these two boats behind us and get a little more rest. More later. I am very tired and I have a feeling there is a gybe coming up in a little while. ---Chuck Skewes
Sunday, 5:48 p.m. PST
All well on Vincitore, excellent weather and the best food in the Pacific! Quesadillas, huevos rancheros! Viva Mexico! Fantastic afternoon with winds of 15 to 20 knots. Boat surfing; top speed so far 18.7! ---Ricardo Brockmann and crew
Sunday, 4:45 p.m. PST
This morning I was awakened by a yell for Artie [Means] to bring up a camera, then a loud roar of a jet buzzing us. A U.S. aircraft carrier [USS Carl Vinson] was out doing maneuvers within a mile of us. We talked to them briefly on the radio to get course and direction so that we would stay out of their way. It was pretty impressive out here in the middle of nowhere to have so much activity for a while.
We have extended a little on Holua during the day and now the wind is 16-18 and brief touches in the 20s. We are still under A2 but looking closely at setting the new A4. The conditions today are ideal with lots of sun and warmth. We are currently on lay line to Cedros and will most likely be gybing in 7 hours or so to catch the wind concentration off of the bend in the Baja Peninsula. I hope the wind holds through the night we are moving great and everything is going well. Finished the gumbo today; on to dehydrated tomorrow. ---Chuck Skewes
Positions at 7 a.m. PDT Monday (official race times remain PDT despite time change); PHRF Off-Wind handicap times in seconds per mile.
1. Akela (Reichel/Pugh 78/minus-120), Doug Baker, Long Beach, Calif., 365 miles to go; average speed 10.2 knots; ETA Tuesday, 6:47 p.m. PDT.
2. Medicine Man (Andrews 63/minus-99), Bob Lane, Long Beach, Calif., 401 MTG; avg. speed 9.4k; ETA Wednesday, 1:48 a.m. PDT.
3. Alchemy (Andrews 68/minus-87), Per Peterson, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., 433 MTG; avg. speed 8.6k; ETA Wednesday, 9:05 a.m. PDT.
4. Holua (Santa Cruz 70/minus-87), Brack Duker, Marina del Rey, Calif., 436 MTG; avg. speed 8.6k; ETA Thursday 9:54 a.m., PDT.
5. Vincitore (Reichel/Pugh 52/minus-102), Ricardo Brockmann, Acapulco, Mexico, 431MTG; avg. speed 8.6k; ETA Thursday, 8:38 a.m. PDT.
Akela falls 3 hours shy in LB-Cabo record try
CABO SAN LUCAS, Calif.
Akela's bid for the record in Long Beach Yacht Club's biennial race to Cabo San Lucas fell just over three hours shy at mid-day Tuesday, leaving skipper Doug Baker to dwell on the irony of it all.
"The first day and a half was a killer," he said. "Too slow. Couldn't make it up."
Not like two years ago when Baker and his crew were still sailing Magnitude 80, the boat they sailed to set most of their records in other races, although ironically none for their own Long Beach Yacht Club. In 2008 the wind blew too hard, except for Peter Tong's OEX that set the record of 2 days 22 hours 50 minutes 9 seconds.
"That was the year we demasted," Baker recalled, painfully.
Akela, a Reichel/Pugh 78, missed OEX's record by 3 hours 5 minutes 4 seconds. Its elapsed time was 3 days 1 hour 55 minutes 55 seconds.
"It was a pretty mellow race, actually," Baker said, "not a lot going on for a Cabo race. Got nice wind the last night and this morning, but that was about it. There was one point we thought we might have a shot at it. We were doing maybe 12 knots but that wasn't enough. Too many things have to go right."
Akela's crossing off the beach one mile east of Cabo Falso would probably be the only daylight finish. Bob Lane's Medicine Man, an Andrews 63, was due in around the margarita time, perhaps soon enough to bring the pharmacist first place on corrected handicap time for the second time in a row.
The other three boats---Brack Duker's Holua, Per Petterson's Alchemy and Ricardo Brockmann's Vincitore---were still scrambling among themselves at the latest report.
Baker's only solace: no gear problems.
"Nope, not a thing. It just didn't blow hard enough to mess anything up. "We saw [wind] maybe in the low 20s, but that wasn't sustained. We used the same [A2] sail most of the way almost to the end."
Final tracking by iBoat
E-mail from the boats
Tuesday, 4:26 p.m. PST
We have been continuing our match race with Alchemy and overnight finally pulled ahead. We are still sailing in very pleasant conditions 15kn NW and the crew are all fit and well. Even though there have been relatively consistent winds, we have been gybing on shifts to extract what little gains we can over Alchemy. Only 80nm to go with some tricky patches and light winds at the finish so there is plenty more racing yet.
Monday, 9 p.m. PST
We maintained our lead on Holua today and it appears we gained a little through the day. Today sailing was ideal with 15 to 20 knots of breeze and sunny skies all day. We are close to laying Cabo right now with Holua directly upwind and a few miles back. We exchanged a few gybes over the last few hours and now the sun is setting for hopefully our last night. We battled kelp all day and still have the same two leaves on the rudder that we can not get off. We broke the kelp stick trying. I think we will name them Fred and Harry and just put them on the crew roster because they will stay there until we finish. I wish they would stop shaking the rudder every time we go over 14 knots.
Today for lunch we had something yellowish and it appeared to have noodles in it. We are going to have the slightly darker yellow stuff for dinner tonight. Since the labels are not on them anymore and they are left over from Transpac we have no real idea what it is we are eating. It tastes better than a salt lick but not as good as the real gumbo we started the race with. We are holding out the hot dogs until Tuesday for the home stretch.
Patrick found the penalty for not tucking your life jacket pull string on when you are on the grinders. He inflated to the size of his pregnant wife in 5 seconds. He reminded us today that she is officially full term with the baby today.
I tried sleeping in the coffin style pipe birth in the back today since we were on port gybe and determined that when I die the only thing I want is a bigger coffin than that bunk. I will leave that to the smaller bow guys to sleep in from now on.
Of all the distance races I have done this has been one of the best with such close racing and boat to boat tactics. These old 70-foot sleds are such a great boat for these races and truly amazing at the speeds we average. I am already excited about the spring race. --Chuck Skewes
Monday, 5:46 p.m. PST
Well we have been locked in battle overnight and today with both Vincitore and Alchemy. Last night we were exchanging tacks before Alchemy slipped ahead of us this morning. We passed abeam of Cedros at about 0300 and after that spent the morning continually working to get seaweed off the rudder. It is an exhausting process for the crew leaning over the back with a long stick trying to scrape it off and you have to be in the wrong place at the wrong time on deck to get the job. It has been a warm and sunny day off the coast of Mexico in perfect sailing conditions under spinnaker in 15kn WNW wind. We have had no visitors today or seen much other shipping so we have been on our own. The wind is still very shifty so we will have another busy night trying to make back ground on Alchemy. ---Adrienne Cahalan
Monday, 4:04 p.m. PST
Life on Vincitore going great! Very good winds and fantastic weather. Top speed so far 19.6! Food is getting better every day, but not here! All enjoying the ride. Have had both Holua and Alchemy in sight all day, so it has
been a lot of fun. ---Cheers from crew of Vincitore
Positions at 7 a.m. PDT Tuesday (official race times remain PDT despite time change); PHRF Off-Wind handicap times in seconds per mile.
1. Akela (Reichel/Pugh 78/minus-120), Doug Baker, Long Beach, Calif., 90 miles to go; average speed over course 10.7 knots; ETA Tuesday, 3:38 p.m. PDT.
2. Medicine Man (Andrews 63/minus-99), Bob Lane, Long Beach, Calif., 130 MTG; avg. SOC 10.1k; ETA Tuesday, 7:54 p.m. PDT.
3. Vincitore (Reichel/Pugh 52/minus-102), Ricardo Brockmann, Acapulco, Mexico, 162 MTG; avg. SOC 9.6k; ETA Thursday, Tuesday 11:53 p.m. PDT.
4. Holua (Santa Cruz 70/minus-87), Brack Duker, Marina del Rey, Calif., 179 MTG; avg. SOC 9.3k; ETA Thursday 2:14 a.m. PDT.
5. Alchemy (Andrews 68/minus-87), Per Peterson, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., 180 MTG; avg. SOC 9.3k; ETA Wednesday, 2:22 a.m. PDT.