As part of our growing relationship with St. Barth Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, I’m ‘guest blogging’ on their website. Here’s my first installation:
John Casey, who is a U.S. Multihull Champion, has fallen in love with St. Barts, too! I am pleased to present his first guest blog with hopes of more to come.
With St. Barthélemy’s rich sailing tradition, being discovered by Columbus in 1493 and used by French pirates to stash Spanish galleon spoils, the eight square mile island has remained a number one world sailing destination.
When I first arrived from Florida in 2009 to sail in the prestigious catamaran regatta, the CataCup, I was taken aback by how unique the island actually was compared to other Caribbean destinations. There was not a piece of trash anywhere. There was no McDonald’s or Subway. There were no people milling around with nothing to do. It felt like a productive island. We arrived at an open island villa built on the side of the mountain. It felt as if the structure itself admired the view as much as I did. At that exact time I thought, “This is a place for me!”
I’m prepping the Cirrus R out for the coming Great Texas 300. It’s one of those things where it’s a damn far way to go, 22 hours driving, but it’s always a test of oneself and their craft. There aren’t many races out there anymore where we can stretch our legs out and drive it insane for 100 miles in a day and not turn around….so we’re in. Then it’s about 90 miles day 2, 45 miles day 3, and a 33 mile shorty day four.
Come to think of it, I’m not prepping much except checking over every bit on the Cirrus R, whipping splices, putting in waypoints, cleaning out my not used enough Camelback, and charging every piece of equipment my little paws can get a hold of.
My longtime crew, Kenny Monster, and I gave this race a shot a while back. I think we were fist to finish every leg, but lost out in the corrected time trophy after some down home big country shenanigans. Yeah, I said it…shenanigans. But that was then and this is now. I’ve got my crew, Dalton Tebo, groundcrew Rob (Robbob) Remmers ready to go. We are all ready to tackle the unknown off the sun laden and oven riddled coast of Texas. This is the last beachcat race with the comradeship of finishing, not just placing high on the list. It’s friggin difficult is what I’m sayin’. Last year was a gnarly ride up the coast and the forecast has gotten bigger for the start on next Wednesday off South Padre Island…..20 plus knots-six foot jackers and enough seaweed to satisfy Adam Richman’s taste. From what I remember Texas goes big, so I expect nothing less.
Just so you know I’m not lying, you can catch most of the action starting Monday. Here’s the live streaming schedule: ALL TIMES ARE CENTRAL TIME. So tack on an hour to our home time sugarplum. Click on the Great Texas Justin.tv Channel to catch what’s goin’ on ya’ll.
All kidding aside, we’re ready.
Wednesday, June 13, 9:30 am – 10:15: Leg 1 Analysis and Start at 10 am
Let’s go back, way back, to the beginning of April 2012 for the Miami-Key Largo yacht race. The MKL is a 50-mile drag race starting just off Key Biscayne in Miami, finishing on the west side of Barnes Sound just racing in what is referred to as the ‘inside.’
This year’s installment is not quite like any I’ve ever been a part of. We arrived on Thursday to step the stick on the carbon Marstrom 20 and the jitters of the competitors were already starting to resonate. As I walked around the Miami Yacht Club I overheard conversations of, “this is going to be a crazy year.” And, “Is that forecast for real?” Read On..
A few weeks ago at the St. Pete NOOD Regatta we had a day that’s perfect for golf or football, but it was all wrong for our weather dependent sport. Shining sun, mild temperature, sprawling sandy beach, no wind. So the boys got together and started flicking around small boat parts around Spa Beach, just a stones throw from St. Pete Yacht Club. No, we didn’t break any windows or put holes in drying spinnakers, but when the grown ups get involved a small bungee experiment turns into a full fledged campaign to shoot miscellaneous objects a far as possible.
This year, the Charlotte Harbor Regatta was all about learning. We had a new boat and Dalton and I hadn’t sailed together in almost four months, so we got loosened up an down to the business of learning the new Cirrus R F18.
Friday there was a blustery easterly breeze careening down the shoreline and through the bridge and condos which made for shifty and puffy conditions over the dark blue chilled water of Charlotte Harbor. The first thing we learned on this cool sun laden day was even though the Cirrus R has a very flat forward section it goes through waves really well against the chop, albeit a little more loudly than most cats. Right out of the gate we had boatspeed and pointing ability. We were certainly not off the pace. We were stoked because we knew she had more to give; we just had to find out how to make that happen. Figuring out a new design is something special in sailing.
Downwind it handled really well. Most F18s have a little leeward helm, but the Cirrus was really well balanced and responsive due to the high volume and rocker forward of the crossbeam and the flat bottom section of the hull. Oh, and it planes for sure. There is always a debate if catamarans plane. This boat has really put that to rest. The R is a big F18 and it feels big downwind, crashing over and through waves like Banque Populaire V. It has virtually no pitching. The balancing point of the boat downwind is well aft, and the forward rocker acts as a huge bow which slowly comes down at a low angle off wave crests. It’s like driving an Escalade over a speed hump. The bow decks are shaped like BPV so the spray shoots straight up off of the inverted ‘V’ shape of the deck, which makes it look like smoke trailing behind the boat. And there’s plenty of spray.
From what I heard from all the naysayers about the ‘R’ is that it doesn’t perform in light air. We won plenty of light air races including the last race of the regatta when it was extremely light. We were able to roll the fleet for a going away win with both hulls in the water the entire race. Myth Busted!!
After the weekend we were content that the boat was so fast at the bottom of the learning curve. Since Charlotte Harbor we’ve figured out a few settings and a style of sailing the R that’s been successful. We had majorly exciting conditions at the NOOD regatta recently also where we definitely became stronger as we progressed and ended up with really great speed and angle all the way around the course.
Here’s a vid of the second day we sailed the boat at Charlotte Harbor. Upwind we were learning settings and…er..found out that going up the middle wasn’t the way to go. But downwind………fully turned on and extending. Enjoy. Please watch in HD. Cheers,
After college I didn’t want to see another book or magazine, but slowly I’ve enjoyed turning pages more and more, especially when I’m in an article I guess. In The Keys, Bill Firth, whose son is racing cats now, gave me this mag with another article about the CataCup, with a great picture of the podium winners. More pub for cat sailing! Check it.
I just received another great production video from the CataCup as a promo for this year’s event. We only had five boats from North America head to the pristine conditions of St. Barth last November. After doing the event for a couple years now, I have the logistics locked up and this year’s event is going to be even better. It is truly one of the overall top ten regattas in the world. During the last edition, I had so much help from Sotheby’s and St. Barth Properties to get to the event, and I’m looking forward to this year. There are a maximum of 50 entries allowed and when registration opens it takes about 24 hours for all of the spots to be full. We can fit up to 10 boats in the container from Miami, and we need to get all the logistics straight on our end to make it happen. Ask anyone who has done this regatta what they think and their eyes light up. Please shoot me an email if you are interested in participating.
Last weekend the Cirrus R debuted at the Tradewinds regatta with Bret and Kenny earning a second place, throwing a 4 and ending with a bullet. They told me how it sailed on Saturday and we made some small adjustments and their performance shot up on Sunday. When I asked Bret how it sailed he said, “It’s like we were on a whole different boat than anybody else, especially downwind where we were lower and faster!” Dalton and I start training on Sunday on the road to F18 Worlds in September 2012.
Photo Credit: Leandro Spina
A shining sun greeted us today in the morning when we drove to St. Jean to do a little more fine tuning on the MK2. The first race started off with us back in the pack when I didn’t pull the trigger soon enough on the start line. It was okay because we were able to move from 15th at the first mark to 1st by the last leg with Enrique Figueroa and Mischa Heemskerk just behind. We made a mistake though and dropped our spinnaker too soon on the final small distance race leg. It was high drama as Enrique could hold his spinnaker to the finish and Mischa dropped at the right time. We put our kite back up and were coming down on Enrique too fast. We had to drop our kite again to keep from hitting Enrique. All the while, Mischa was coming fast on a reach from below and we were all neck and neck. After we dropped our kite we were just able to edge out Enrique at the finish, but Mischa came in and took the win by three boatlengths, with us just behind and Enrique getting the short end of the stick.
All I can say about the second race is that we battled back again to earn a 2nd.
The third race of the day was a longer race from St. Jean to Gustavia and back, about 20 miles. The 12-knot breeze was perfect for us and the conditions were absolute. We rounded the first mark in 4th but passed two boats within about four miles. We kept the pressure on Mischa and Eduard and ended up passing them when they put their kite up and couldn’t hold their course to Pain du Sucra, a huge rock jetting up outside Gustavia Harbor. We were able to pull away and finished the day right, with a bullet! Tomorrow is the race around the island and we are prepped and ready!
Here is a video from the setup and racing yesterday. Here are results.
Yesterday, the work started. Since the containers are now empty the fun begins. We finished most of the branding on the sails and hulls, and the new MK2 went together really well, so we rigged up and went for the splash sail today. No bottles broken over the bow or anything, just huge swells to make sure the cat has what it takes to live in the open ocean.
Huge swells is what we like, and the 18-20 knots out there today had plenty to dish up. When we rounded the north side of the island and double trapped we instantly received our money’s worth. I was a little nervous though. A new boat, relatively big wind and swell, all by ourselves…If something broke we’d be drifting to South America.
After we tacked onto port on the windward side of the island it was difficult not to notice the waves shattering against the stony shore with only cliffs as a backdrop. Another thought crossed my mind at that point. New boat, big swell, all by ourselves and a meat grinder shoreline. Stay together baby!
Not soon after we rounded the 5th rocky cliff we started to see kiteboarders in the distance. One of them saw us and started racing us upwind before we made the turn towards Nikki Beach. He had a little speed on us and gained, with his kite only feet from our rig. Then he dove underneath us for the pass but ate it. It’s nice to be on a stable platform sometimes. Just as we started to reach with the big swell two more came over and we all rode the swells together, so close we could hear each other yelling as we accelerated down wave faces. So much fun together with the wind and waves. So simple.
So we made it to the beach and start to tune up tomorrow for racing that starts on Thursday. Ready for more.
After the ordeal in St. Maarten, I finally made it to St. Barth. The ferry ride was pleasurable. I know by now to sit on the leeward side, lower level of the boat. I watched the festivities as people came down from the top with ‘puke bags’ in their hands and people on the windward side of the boat were relentlessly splashed. They liked it at first and tried to play it off, but after a couple of good ones, I had more friends on my side of the boat.
Coming close to the island I saw some familiar rocks jutting from the surface like Neptune’s knuckles. Some we use as marks during our races and I thought, “I’ll see you soon again my friend, be kind to us as we round.”
As we came into Gustavia Harbor, I saw the beach where we rig the boats and the containers waiting to be emptied. With four containers this year supplying 50 boats, it’ll be pandemonium on the little beach.
Here is a view of Gustavia Harbor. They make us sail all the way inside to round a mark. The wind is all over the place in there. It was totally frustrating last year. We were lucky to win the race after drifting around in there for quite some time.
I was greeted right away after customs by my friend Christophe, a hard working, jolly but beastly Frenchman, and we made our way through the twisting roads like we were driving up a vine on the side of the mountainous island. Last night we dined on beef and chicken sausages, baked potatoes, pastries and the thickest cuts of bacon I’ve ever seen! When I saw them for the first time my eyes went wide. Pascale, Christophe’s wife, noticed and explained with a wry smile, “This is how we eat bacon in France.” And I thought we did everything big in the USA!
This morning I went for a run on the rocky, excluded side of the island around a windy bluff with nobody in sight. I saw a natural pool at the bottom of the cliff that I’m going to explore tomorrow morning. Every time I come here I discover something new. I did see a little too much garbage in that area though. Christophe told me it’s because the English islands upwind push their trash into the water sometimes and their garbage dump is in open air so some garbage escapes. I think we should organize a U.S. regatta envoy to clean up that area….working on it.
The St. Barth Catacup starts on November 16th with 50 F18s lining up on the pristine waters of the Caribbean. This time we have some new partners joining in our adventure. I’m happy to present Sotheby’s International Realty and St. Barth Properties as new members of our team! Sotheby’s is the #1 luxury realty company in the world with approximately 500 offices in over 40 countries. You can go here to find properties in your area. Sotheby’s website is really impressive and deserves a look.
Started in 1989, St. Barth Properties is a boutique travel company which offers everything visitors desire on St. Barth. Scheduling 150 private villas and the best hotels in the French West Indies, as well as providing full concierge services, St. Barth Properties designs and delivers dream vacations with premium accomodations. If you were thinking of the perfect vacation, you should give them a call.
Here is a story on Sail-World.com about the upcoming championships. I do think they left out one important team for the adult championships, Matt Struble and Damon Lacasella. Matt previously won this trophy three times in a row, is a multiple time DN iceboat world champ, and is at the top of the A-Cat scene.
Just in case you’re sitting on your ass this weekend, here’s a little vid I made late, late, late last night to get it done before this weekend. If I wait longer it’ll never get done….. Our goal last weekend was to just have fun. The keys make it easy…..
The first big regatta of the Euro season is on. Dubbed the “Mini Worlds,” Eurocat in Carnac, France is where teams gauge their speed against over 150 of the best from around the world and go back to the lab to tweak everything before the big show.
The World Champs, Olivier Backes and Arnaud Jarlegan, are still crazy fast even though they’re on a new platform, Sail Innovation’s Phantom. They lead the pack with a 4,6,3 on the first day. Alex Udin of SI always makes their boats look sporty, and this is no exception. Man, if they’re this fast already another world championship isn’t far away.
Backes and Jarlegan showing form.
Front Runners on a C2 Darren Bundock (second place at the last Eurocat and 2010 F18 Worlds) and Jeroen “Leever” Van Leeuwen (2009 F18 World Champion) have a 1, black flag, 2 and are back in the pack at the moment but that will likely change tomorrow.
Results now don’t mean much at all when the throwouts come into play, although using a throw on the first day doesn’t usually sit really well when you want to push it on the start line. Here is the first page of the results.
To give some insight into who is on the top boats:
My former teammate Elke Delnooz is the top female for sure! Congrats!
Thanks to Alex Udin for the great shots! Here are more.
The weekend of May 14-15 is the Sarasota Sailfest with the best junior racers from around the country competing. Magic Marine is again supporting youth sailing by donating quite a bit of racing gear to the regatta for prizes.
Now cats have been invited to come race alongside the Lasers and 420s with a lengthened course. With all of the hoopla over cats with the America’s Cup and Olympics lately, junior sailors are excited to jump onto cats around the racecourse. The entry fee is $80.00 for the full ride including dinner on Saturday.
Magic Marine is also sponsoring a Debrief Clinic by yours truly after racing on Saturday to get the entire multihull fleet attending faster. This clinic is absolutely free and will be a review of the day’s racing, weather review, boat tuning, boat handling, tactics and a video review session. The clinic is also in support of the Sarasota Sailing Squadron’s Youth Sailing Program which has four teams competing in the upcoming Junior U.S. Multihull Championship in California. The regatta is open to all spinnaker cats!
In Europe, Magic Marine has been a major sponsor of junior sailing, and we are working to get more involved here in the states. Here is a quick video of the Magic Marine sponsored Easter Regatta in the Netherlands last week.
I’ve logged my share of miles on a beach cat but there are two guys who have me beat. Jamie ‘Hands’ Livingston and Kenny ‘Monster’ Pierce have seven Worrell 1000s,13 Tybee 500s and six Everglades Challenges between them. I stayed landbound for once and ground crewed for these two distance kings for their attempt at the Everglades Challenge a few days ago.
They pushed off at 7 am to travel over 300 miles nonstop from St. Petersburg, FL (Mullet Key) to Key Largo nonstop. It took the two lead boats a little over 40 hours to complete the grueling trek. For the first stop, sailboats have to drop their rig to get under a bridge, then it’s full tilt from there except for another checkpoint where they have to navigate a few miles of mangroves. There are also plenty of shallows on the left side of Florida, as well as unmarked channels, so the navigator has his hands full, especially when the breeze is full on.
Full on this year it was not. Jamie and Kenny, sailing Jamie’s Tornado, own the record of just over 26 hours, but this year much of the race was light and on the nose, which favored the eventual winner by 20 minutes, Randy Smyth, on his ultra light, sick trimaran Sizzor. Randy has a main, jib and reacher canvasing the modified A-Cat center hull, with two small floats that ‘scissor’ longitudinally, giving him forward bouyancy to leeward and puts his weight more aft on the windward side. Really excellent concept to reality.
Randy didn’t sleep at all during the race, and Livingston said he definitely earned the win. When the wind was light, Randy was able to grow his lead, but when it kicked up, the Tornado gained. Randy was faster in the paddle sections, where he took the lead on the way to a leg one record time. He had a nice stand to prop his mast on to keep everything out of the water while the Tornado was dragging rigging through the swampy Everglades tributaries. The two boats were within sight of each other the whole race, and Sizzor jumped a sandbar to seal the deal heading into Key Largo.
The start of this race isn’t exactly like a catamaran Le-mans start, where all the boats rush into the water as quickly as possible. When the gun went off Randy jumped into the lead with the Tornado right behind. Most of the rest of the field lallygagged around, some of them frolicking on the beach for over an hour.
There was quite some kit too. Many of the rigs were home builds. One attraction of this race is the challenge to build a vessel and conquer the unknown. A true test of oneself from garage to the finish. It looked like some of the concepts are a little…. lacking. I’ll let you decide. The below video is from setup to racing, and a few competitors had their own greuling heart-wrenching race to the water. One rule of the race is the vessel has to carry whatever they use to splash, so some skimp on materials, and some try to use just sand and a little muscle to get their contraption beyond water’s edge. The competitors aren’t allowed any help to get wet, so we all just watched some very embattled fellas. Everyone’s challenge is unique.
It feels strange that there are still people racing as I write this. It seems like so long ago I was in St. Petersburg at the start. I wonder how the stand up paddlers are doing? Check the Spot tracker to see what’s going on. Right now, I see three competitors asking for help. At 80+ competitors paying $350 a piece, I think some of that almost 30 grand can be used to send the calvary.
I can’t think of many overnight beachcat events in the U.S. After finishing this race once, Kenny said we need to arc back to the days of the original Worrell 1000 and have another nonstop race. I agree.
If you didn’t catch my piece on Sailing Anarchy last week, here it is. I have to wait for it to get to page two before I can give it a permalink.
Oh, and it was two days after getting back from iceboating that I went to Charlotte Harbor not two weeks, but hey reporting is never fully true.
Here it is: nice to ice.
Sometimes an amazing picture gets me excited to write. Creativity has a snowball effect. Gretchen Dorian struck gold with this one. On the left (US44) is the 2011 DN World Champion, Ron ‘Rocket’ Sherry, with the Polish contingent putting the pressure on at the top mark. Ron won the championship with an ultra-consistent scoreline of all seconds on the snow bank topped, rough ice of Lake Senashwine in Illinois. No, the picture isn’t warped. The bend of the carbon/fiberglass masts is induced on purpose for the rig to ‘self trim’ when puffs power the mostly wooden DN iceboats around the track.
The racecourse a track too, since a DN can actually spin out at any time when it’s overpowered, especially at the bottom mark. I was a little tentative at first around the marks after hearing the stories of spinouts and crashes. I didn’t know how many G’s the boat could handle, but with some coaching my roundings improved. There was a huge collision at the downwind mark when a competitor tried the short route around the mark inside of a couple other boats. A nasty crackling explosive collision ensued. After the plume of snow settled we could make out two destroyed DNs and a sailor laying prone on the ice. After a black flag and a tense waiting period the sailor was helped onto an ATV headed back to shore. Everyone ended up okay, and racing quickly commenced. At closing speeds of 120 mph, it can be a violent sport.
The boats are so fast timing is everything too. At the top mark when I had the sheeting and angle right, the boat took off from 35 mph upwind to 60 in what seemed like a heartbeat. I enjoyed rocketing downwind, bouncing over snow patches that I wasn’t good enough to dodge and watching the snow blow over the ice from almost directly behind me. The DN has so much apparent wind that the boat tracks nearly directly downwind and it thinks the breeze is dead ahead. With the mainsheet trimmed fully in and the windward telltale ticking up I kept thinking, “How is this possible?” Before I knew it I was at the bottom mark and had to set up for the turn upwind. I’d sit up to get my weight forward and with the runner blades screeching and sliding over the ice, sounding like a grinder on a chalkboard, I’d make the turn as smoothly as possible and sheet in. My hands were so cold by that point I could hardly hold the sheet. I felt the throbbing pulse of blood through my fingers. I didn’t care…go faster.
Picture Courtesy Gretchen Dorian
The above picture is my setup. Do you notice a difference? Yep, not nearly as much mast bend as the leaders. Mast bend is induced a few different ways, and less rig tension would have helped. We were making adjustments to my DN the whole regatta, but with only four races there wasn’t enough time to dial it in. Besides, I felt a little bit like Tom Cruise in Days of Thunder. I knew I wasn’t going fast enough but I didn’t know what adjustments to make to go faster. I mean, a puff would hit and I’d think, “I’m jacked up now!” and some guy would fly by me 10 mph faster. Then I’d say out loud to myself, “man, I suck.” But it’s those small adjustments that make the difference. The DN is the most technical boat in terms of setup that I’ve ever sailed. I have a mountain of respect for the top sailors who have generations of data collection to get the maximum out of the Detroit News (DN) rule.
Cracking off downwind. Picture Courtesy Gretchen Dorian
I’ve never seen the hunt for perfect weather conditions take place like today. At lunch in mildly cold Madison, Wisconsin at the Old Fashioned restaurant everyone’s smart phones created a little extra heat as the players at the table filled in the chart of available venues for the DN Iceboat world championships. Apparently, they use satellites, planes and sailors scurry around the north in search of el Perfecto. Rumors flew about slush on some lake to the north, holes in some pond in Montana, too much snow there, rain somewhere else, New Jersey’s straight out and too many geese turds from birds that missed the southern call on an otherwise perfectly iced up lake near Sheboygan.
Daniel Hearn rippin in front of the Madison Skyline.
I took this lunch time to pull some info on DNs from Dan Hearn and Geoff Sobering. Between massive bites from his tuna sandwich, Geoff, otherwise known as The Professor, spoke in gleaming terms of the religion known as DN sailing. We started with mast base placement, forestay length, plank placement, mainsheet block adjustment, mast rotation, rig tension then weight placement. I tried to take notes.
Daniel schooled me on the finer points of mark roundings and speed. Between every nugget of speed info, they went over the don’t do’s, like don’t be in the way of a boat above at the top mark because if they need to take power out of the rig they need to bear off. Also, if you’re going downwind, stay out of the way of upwind boats, no matter what tack you are on. Weight placement is also pretty important when rounding the leeward mark to keep from spinning out, which isn’t so quick.
The how to start clinic also took place at the table and I found out a few nuances like run, push the boat and jump in. The starting positions are a neat subject. Basically, we begin by picking a number for a start position and after that start positions are determined by finishes. Half the fleet will start on port and half on starboard. When the flags are dropped..you guessed it, run, push the boat and jump in. There will be a gold, silver and bronze fleet based on rankings. Since I’ve never actually sailed one of these things, I’ll be in the bronze fleet with a chance to move up into silver if I finish in the top 15 in the first race. We’ll see how that goes.
Like every sport on the planet, there is special equipment like the extra huge scary gloves, helmet with a strap to save neck muscles and spiked shoes. Some racers wear the speed suit for an aerodynamic advantage. No, I’m not wearing one of those and I’m not wearing Shaun White skinny pants either. I like my beer tasty. I’ll be bundled up like a giant chinchilla, staying as warm as possible with more fleece than a Bronx hustler. I’ll be the guy wearing two pairs of gloves, a facemask, and drool frozen from the corner of my mouth to my ear from the 60 mph speed grin. I’ll be the guy with a jacket over my jackets and boots over my boots. I’ll be the guy proud to look like Ralphie’s little brother in A Christmas Story.
Extra huge scary gloves
I’d launch into some diatribe about who the top guys are or how I plan to smoke everybody, but I don’t know anything about either of those subjects at the moment. I do have a feeling I’ll hear more than one diatribe from certain racers at this event though. I’d also tell you where Lake Senachwine is, but I don’t know where Peru, Illinois is either. I’ve got lots a learnin’ to do.
A big thanks to Wes Wilcox for the hospitality and ride from the airport. Sorry you couldn’t make it south brother.
Also, small word to the wise: Don’t try to write a story while driving the ultra rippled roads from WI to Ill. I hope the ice is flatter. Out.
Check out all the action at iceboat.org
A couple months ago I was invited to participate in the DN Iceboat North Americans/Gold Cup (world championship). My first question was, “I’m in, where do I need to get my plane ticket to?” That comment showed how much of an iceboat newb I am. The reply I received was “Well, somewhere between Washington state and New Jersey.”
Iceboat racing is all about where the smoothest surface is, and right now it looks like they’ve settled on Green Bay, Wisconsin for the championship series. The effort to find the proper ice is like a search for someone’s lost baby in the snow, with planes circling and teams on the ground scouring the barren ice laden countryside looking for the perfect place to train and hold the event, which starts on Sunday. You can hit iceboating.net to get the latest on the situation. Here’s what Wes Wilcox of Harken had to say about the current conditions in Green Bay:
“The Pol’s that are up sailing on Green Bay are friends and traveling buddies of the guys from PISS (Pewaukee Ice Sailing Stiffs). Got a report from Steve yesterday evening. Ice was fast and fairly smooth. Some drifting being blown in from the ice that was previously snow covered to the south, but nothing major as of last night. With the current winds out of the north-west shouldn’t be an issue. However, there is snow in the forecast for that area.”
View of the Wisconsin ice this morning.
Here is a vid taken by the Polish teams this morning already on the hard water training in Wisconsin. Check the acceleration of the second boat.
The iceboat boys said they have a helmet for me. I’ll probably need it. I’m also borrowing some spiked boots to get a good push off the start line. Now I have to dig up ALL my snowboarding gear and Magic Marine underlayers to make sure my thin Florida blood still circulates after being out of my element for so long.
I’ll have about a day to train in the DN before the World Championships. I couldn’t think of a better time to go for my first sail! Hey, it’s apparent wind sailing right? I’m ready to sheet in and fly a runner. I’m all jazzed up.
With only two weeks to go until our favorite race of the year, the Steeplechase, the curved foils were delivered and we got to work cutting on the all carbon Marstrom 20. You know, taking a sawzall to a perfectly good boat is never an easy proposition, but with the curved foils laying on the table just a few enticing feet away, we were ready to get choppin’. The new cassettes fit in the old board slits, but the old straight cassettes had to be cut out. After pulling the Nomex/Prepreg slivers out of the case holes like the game Doctor, we sanded, fit, measured, sanded and sanded some more to achieve the “sacred geometry’ for the new foils. A little epoxy and carbon strands and the new cassettes were solidly in place. Then we gawked at the sexy weapon like it was our first gentleman’s club visit.
After a week of anticipation we arrived for the start of the Steeplechase, a race from the west side of Key Largo, out to the Atlantic, around the southern tip of Islamorada and back to the west side of Key Largo, about 100 miles total. Only one problem, forcast of no wind. We were between fronts and there was no land effect forecasted either. Since this is the only cat race I know of that allows paddling, of course the paddles came out in half the fleet right at the start in Barnes Sound. After a couple minutes of watching the fleet paddle by, I broke out our big paddle and kindly requested Bret to steer a course straight to the filling breeze on the west side of the sound. Since the M20 weighs in at only 250 lbs., we had an advantage on most of the fleet. We paddled straight to the front, tacking in the left shift and tracking straight to Card Sound Bridge in 5-6 knots, flying a hull with me on the low side, sometimes even hiking to leeward to get the hull out C-Class style. It was working. We were able to pull away from our main competition on the left side, the ARC 22 and the Nacra F20c.
There was one boat we were thoroughly worried about though. The only boat to truck to the right side, our sistership sailed by Mike Phillips and my long time crew Kenny ‘Monster’ Pierce. We positioned ourself on the left side fleet well, but when we converged the other M20 came flying out of the right side and entered the Card Sound Bridge with about a 200 yard lead on us. After the bridge, we stayed to their left and led them to the next shift, which put us back in control. Here is a short vid of the section from Pumpkin Key, through Angelfish Creek and out into the Atlantic.
Even though we captured the lead, the 50-mile downwind run wasn’t without drama. With every pressure wave from behind the ARC 22 was gaining. They also found more gradient outside and passed us under kite with about 20 miles to go. We turned the tables when we bounced outside. They committed inside at Rodriguez Key which was the major changing point of the race. On port, going out to sea we were running 160s all day and we started to get lifted. I said when we hit 140 we gybe back onto starboard. With that shift we took the lead back and they gybed on our hip heading south. Then the breeze shifted more left and increased. We headed into the sunset double trapped with the kite at full speed straight to the finish at Anne’s Beach in Islamorada. With it’s huge sail area, the ARC couldn’t hold our line and ended up too far outside when we dropped the kites to start reaching for the finish in 12-14 knots true. We finished right at sunset with Mike and Kenny less than four minutes behind with the ARC on their heels. It was a long day punctuated by a beautiful reach for about 10 miles.
I’ll let this video explain day two. In short, it’s a lemans start through a couple miles of shallows, then a beat to the Channel Five Bridge. The rest of the race was mostly boatspeed downwind through shallows and mangroves. The boat performed brilliantly. The vid is a bit long, but it tells the story. Hey, what else do my friends up north have to do right now but watch videos and make babies?
I love it when a plan comes together!
The time is growing ever so near to leave for one of my favorite races in the world, the Key Largo Steeplechase.
We’ve been hard at work on the Marstrom 20 getting it outfitted with new curved boards, which was quite a bit of work to get perfect. I’ve devised some new control systems to make it a bit easier for the crew. We all know easier is faster.
This race is a great size-up from a design perspective with some major cat players involved.
Marstrom 20 (2)
Nacra 20 (a bunch)
Formula 18 (a bunch)
And the list goes on………currently 16 entries with many more that haven’t preregistered. That’s pretty good for a distance race way down in the Keys, far from the Great White North. Although I’m sure plenty of teams want to be there, some can’t make it, like Jay Sonnenklar and Steve Lohmeyer, who won last year and have done the race for 15 years in a row. Also Jamie Livingston and Leondro Spina (U.S. Olympic Coach) a perennial powerhouse in the regatta will miss it on the Tornado.
This is truly one to watch.
Last year’s winners of corrected and elapsed time. Jay also let Dalton and Tripp Byrd borrow one of his boats for this year. If they win they have to do their best Captain Morgans impression too.
Here is my story on it last year.
Yes, it was a good day for us in St. Barth! The first distance race of the Catacup was absolute perfect conditions with 10-15 knots from the usual east north easterly direction with 3-6 foot chopped up swells. I’ve done this race before, so going to the usual obscure turning points around the island was a bit easier than last year. Right from the start we had the advantage with a great start 30 feet down from the RC boat with tons of speed, immediately moving into a power position. After a two mile beat we stayed in the pressure to round the first mark off the rocks of the north side of the island 150 meters ahead of the second place boat. We worked the boat as much as possible in the swells downwind to extend our lead to about a mile at the second turn mark, Le Beuf. Between Le Beuf and the second small rock turn was a wild reach with both of us on the transom and the boards halfway up, skipping under perfect blue skies and pressure bombs. On the downwind side of the island going back to Le Beuf we slowed in a painful lullified patch only to watch the second place boat make gains, but we pointed straight at the normal pressure coming around the upwind rocks and screamed back to Le Beuf with traveler down and main twisted, all the while with photoboats circling like we were soon to be prey. After rounding the rock (which isn’t even on a marine chart) we headed back upwind for a six mile beat, playing loose defense. We ended up rounding the final mark back to the finish comfortably ahead looking for the finish just off of Nikki Beach. We finished with about a four minute lead on the second place F18 and were immediately greeted by a Catacup powerboat who threw us two Caribe Lagers, which I finished in about four seconds flat.
From what I hear, it’s breeze on tomorrow so anything can happen. All I can say is, we love the C2 in waves! We had the GoPro working the whole race on the head cam, so we’ll have some sick vid soon.
For pics of the event go here.