Up and Down

clean report

Up and Down

After 2 weeks in Annapolis covering the Melges 24 Worlds and with only a week of down time before heading to Amsterdam for the METS show, I was relishing a few days of relaxation at home.  But when I watched the BMW/Oracle wing go up live and then saw Jimmy Spithill tearing around the harbor, I simply had to see it in person.  A last-minute plane ticket and a long trip to San Diego later, I was strolling along the water a few hundred feet away from the most imposing sight I’ve ever seen in sailing.

As awesome as the wing looked lit up by a spotlight and silhouetted against the black sky, when its power was unleashed on the waters off San Diego Harbor it was more awesome still.  Pacing it in a 28′ Protector, the trimaran sat on 20 knots upwind for miles in less than 10 knots of wind at eye level, and when the breeze increased to 14 knots we were astonished to see 26 knots of boatspeed on the Velocitek – with an apparent wind angle of around 20 degrees and an apparent windspeed of more than 30.  The wing is so quiet and well-behaved, and our juices were flowing to see the foredeck crew readying the furled screecher – could they hit three times windspeed with the big sail up? 

Unfortunately, we never found out, as one of the flaps/ailerons popped out of its pivot, bringing the practice session to a close while bowmen scaled the rig and punched holes in the flap to create lashing points to ensure the safety of the rig on the way home.  The team’s not worried and they say the fix is simple, and they should be back out sailing this weekend.

Despite our disappointment, we remain transfixed by this wing’s ability to turn light breeze into such effortless power, and we can’t wait to see more.  In the meantime, you can check out three dozen photos of the DoGzilla flying two hulls, the damaged wing, the Alinghi spies that we blew away on the race back to the harbor, and more from Ronnie Simpson’s camera, as well as tons of sailing videos from out on the water. The thread is here.

Huge thanks to John Downing for loaning us his pimped out RIB today, and to Point Loma Outfitting for fuel, food, some great clothing, and a cranky old driver.  Pics from Ronnie Simpson, the author of yesterday’s Veteran’s Day story.