John Casey continues to kick ass and take names in distance cat racing, and here’s his latest report, this time from his home state of Florida. Be sure to check out the solid video from Brian Carr below the story, and as always check in on JohnCaseyWorldwide to get a pile of photos from the event as well as the latest fun stories from the world of this ultra high-performance racer and coach (and professional sailing commentator).
An hour and a half east of the horns and middle finger flicks of Orlando streets is our own highway, the Banana River, used by boaters to traverse the Florida coast without the hassle of those pesky Atlantic waves. Last weekend was the 10th annual Hiram’s Haul distance race, part of the Endurance Series, and the sun drenched river water was flatter than Whitney Houston’s comeback….great for us, bad for her.
The morning of the first day greeted us with an 8-13 on again, off again northeasterly that kept us begging for more. With a Le mans start off the shore of Performance Sail and Sport, we beat the fleet upwind to the orange turn mark only to hook it with our right dagger. After dropping our kite to complete our 360 we were a little ways back from the leaders. The Marstrom 20 ‘Carbon Cruising‘ was flat out gone, so we set our sites on the Falcon of lightweights Matt/Gina MacDonald. It took what felt like forever to reel them in, passing them about 2/3 down the 25 mile course. We finished about nine minutes behind the Marstrom, but it was enough to correct out to first.
The fleet was lucky on the second day. The 7-13 knot fresh breeze veered enough to make it the 30 miles back to Merritt Island on a close reach. We had an excellent start but picked up some weeds and ‘Carbon Cruising‘ rolled us hard about 15 minutes in. Tension ran a little high on our C2 at that point. “If they passed us that friggin fast only 15 minutes in we’ve got no chance,” I said. We weren’t pulling out on anyone else either, so we pulled our leeward board and popped the rudder and we played slinky with the Marstrom the rest of the way.
Here is a video from day two, including Matt’s interview when he found the bottom hard. He followed us through the shallows but didn’t know we pulled our boards up…..sneaky sneaky!
We worked the hell out of the boat on this run up the river. There were so many adjustments to be made in the narrow river and switchy puffy wind. We picked our way through the shallows and used a ton of cunningham and in and out off the trap, eventually finishing only a few minutes behind the Marstrom, locking up the win by 11 minutes corrected.