One of our all-time favorite friends is Keith Magnussen of Ullman Sails and he files this race report from Texas…
Every October hundreds of boats in Texas gear up for the annual Harvest Moon Regatta which is a 150 mile sprint from Galveston to Port Aransas. The regatta website claims "offwind sailing for maximum speed" and beautiful weather along the Texas Gulf Coast. I lived in Texas for over ten years and never had the time to participate in the event but this year James Liston brought me out to race on his J-120 Aeolus.
I arrived in Houston to some pretty nice, but hot, weather, and a forecast of 15-30 kts of wind from the South-South East. Well there goes the "offwind sailing for maximum speed" scenario! The race started in less than 8-kts of wind in beautiful weather and flat seas, maybe the website was right? After struggling to get out of the bad air that 200 boats starting in front of you leave we decided to hoist the Code 0 and started to really pick off some boats. Not many people in point to point races these days have a code 0 and that is surprising because it can be such a valuable piece of inventory to have!
I knew we could only hold the 0 up to about 13kts of wind but were gaining so much ground it was hard to get my mind to switch gears. It was not until God decided to switch gears and he brought it down. The fitting
on the end of the pole finally gave way we lost the tack of the sail. Kudos to the crew as we had the sail down quickly and were now jib reaching towards the Freeport Buoy.
As night started to close in on us the wind moved forward and the waves increased in size. We switched out to the blade and were now at such an awkward angle to the waves that is was making it a little difficult to drive. Waves were now continually breaking over the boat and the wind was picking up to 25+kts. This is when you really get to see the true colors of the crew. For the most part, our crew was white in the face! I finally took a nap and when I woke up a 1/3 of the crew was incapacitated with extreme sea-sickness. Made it really roomy down below as no one wanted to get off the deck for fear of catching the bug. Doesn’t bother me though, I like to get out of the cold for 20 minutes and get some coffee!
Day broke and we were quickly closing in on PA and as we got closer the wave sequences increased as did the confusion of the seas. It gets really shallow and the dozens of tankers leaving the area do not help either. We rounded the PA buoy at around 11am and headed to the finish line in 30kts TWS. I took a quick glance to the horizon and saw a slew of boats behind us and knew we were in the first group of finishers. 6th monohull to finish and third place overall corrected time in ORC B.
I was exhausted and so was everyone else at this point, put it did not deter us from having some stiff drinks and a good time at the Sandcastle Condo Resort! Interesting little town and a lot different than what I was used to. Lakewood Yacht Club did a fantastic job organizing and GBCA came out in full force to support the functions. The Houston Yacht Club organized a nice shrimp boil at the Sandcastle while the Bacardi Party got set up.
Big thanks to James Liston for having me out
and all the crew for the hard work on a tough regatta. Check out the Video and I look forward to the next Harvest Moon Regatta!