Our Spin Cup day started early with the long motor out in the cold to the Knox start area, spotting one of the AC45s on the way, tricked out with a big “75″ logo to help celebrate the Bridge’s birthday. Temerity was entered in the Shorthanded Division, with Andreas as crew. The forecast was for 20 – 30 kts all weekend, fine for the race but I was worried about the long uphill slog for the return delivery.
The reality was very light wind for the start, and the flood already starting. The RC made a point of telling the racers the scary forecast, including steep 6 – 8 ft seas at 6 seconds, with wind waves on top of that. We got ready with the #3, motoring around the start area while starts were delayed to wait for wind. Finally it was our turn as the last Division to start. With Andreas’ good tactical advice we nailed the start, crossing the favored pin end in clear air about 2 seconds ahead of the drop. The wind built quickly as we approached the bridge, and we took in a reef in a timely way, which helped us a lot later on. It was a hard beat all the way to the R8 turning mark, which we needed only a small pair of tacks to make. In the process we started catching up with the C and D fleet boats ahead. Bearing off we found the wind was on or even a bit ahead of the beam. The seas were a bit choppy but nothing like the forecast. We stuck with the #3, sheeted to the rail. No one of the C, D, or E fleets had set a kite.
So we sailed and we sailed. We had seen Elan at the start, and I thought I again saw them up ahead. We were very slowly overhauling them. Then we heard USCG on the radio, hailing Elan and stating that a PLB had gone off. Several boats responded, and since we thought we had them in sight, they asked us to try to get into hailing distance. Of course, this being a race, it was easier said than done. We had already tried Ch 16, Ch 22A, and the RC frequency Ch 65, so we tried sound signals and our strobe/spotlight. Finally Ahi hailed us and pointed out that we were chasing the wrong boat. D’oh!
We later gathered that USCG had sent a helicopter out to hover over Elan, to get their attention and get them to finally turn their radio on and tune to Ch 16. I am sure the next SI’s with have a reminder on this point, although clearly a large majority of the fleet were guarding 16, and are now privy to Dylan Benjamen’s cell phone number. (“We just want the number for our records, sir.”)
This next piece of excitement was seeing SC27 Furthur blast past us, chute up and crew working hard. Oh, well.
Then, dark. And cold. We were still north of Santa Cruz and faced a long night, sailing very deep and abusing the poor #3. The seas were very beamy and unsteady, so we still did not feel like we could set, and the wind varied from the teens to the low 20s. We appeared to be making good time against the rest of the fleet, holding about 7 or 8 nm off the coast. Neither Andreas or I had had much sleep the night before, so we started trading watches, letting the other guy get some sleep. At one point mid-Monterey Bay, I went below and neglected to leave the handheld GPS (critically low on batteries) with Andreas, which turned out to be a pretty big mistake as he was sailing to the wind primarily, and when a big shift came we found ourselves fairly well off course. Unfortunately the track data from the handheld has been lost, and getting the data off the plotter at the nav station is a task for another day.
We finished at about 0430, with a elapsed time of almost exactly 16 hours. Starting the motor after we crossed the line brought more excitement, as every piece of electrical equipment on board died upon pushing the start button. Teething pains from our new power electrics. Fortunately, the ugly fix of combining the batteries got us started and to our slip. The harbor and MPYC folks were more than helpful and welcoming, and we enjoyed some minestrone while receiving the very pleasant news that we had placed second in our division.
We left Monterey at about 1400 Saturday, and I decided to just straight motor home, as the wind was fairly light and on our nose, and the seas were moderate. We made it to Alameda in about 21 hours or so, and probably burned about 10 gallons of diesel at 2800 RPM covering around 100 nm. I was glad to do this test as it is valuable, current data that will help energy planning for both battery charging and possible motoring fuel budget for our Hawai’i trip.
All in all a fine way to spend the holiday weekend.