2011 SCYA Midwinter Regatta – Open 5.70 One Design Racing aboard USA 275
"A couple Southern California Open 5.70 owners were still chasing fresh powder up in the mountains but the Open 5.70 fleet was still showing strong with 10 boats during both days of the 2011 SCYA Midwinter Regatta, and was once again the largest One Design keelboat fleet during the weekend. The fleet was racing out of Santa Monica Bay and the race was ran by California Yacht Club.
With a typical southern california southeastern storm coming through on Friday(wind in excess of 35 knots), the weather on the next day was very uncertain, with different forecasts. The sky was overcast and more rain and wind were expected during the day.
I was racing on USA 275 and the race report, is from our "Boat Point of View".
Race 1 – View Kattack Replay
The first race Saturday was a wind already well established to the south and the line seemed to be pin favored, and port tack favored. It takes skills, and for us mostly luck to port tack 9 other Open 5.70 charging the line, but we figured we could squeeze in. First mistake: we were forced to tack, crossed the line over early and had to go around the pin to clear our start. We had to duck the entire fleet to port and paid hard by starting last for the first race of the day. Our goal was to cover the right side of the course in case of a right shift. With the entire fleet still on starboard tack and being the only boat on Port tack, we decide to keep sailing to the right side of the course, nicely headed. The strategy paid off and as soon as we tacked, we got lifted to the mark which allowed us to catch up on 4 Opens and rounded the weather mark 6th. We worked our VMG as much as we could downwind and managed to catch up with one boat but also closed the gap for striking distance with the leading boats. Upwind, now part of the leading boats, we decided to keep clean air and play the shift. The wind was clocking back to the left and a lucky lift put us just behind the leading boat. We were now rounding the mark 2nd, close enough to make a move on the first boat. With good speed and pressure, we sailed our way down with clean air away from USA 279, but lost 1st place on this first race 1 second behind USA 279. Satisfied about our come back, we now had to secure the second race.
Race 2 – View Kattack Replay
The pin end was favored again and this time, on starboard, we nailed the start, with clean air and plenty of speed. Besides our good start, our first upwind leg was painful, working hard trying to keep clear of other leading boats and working the shifts. The weather was changing…we could see some rain clouds offshore but had still no idea what was coming towards us. Being on the wrong side of the course and not in sync with the shifts, we still managed to squeeze in on the port layline, 4th around the mark. USA 274 and USA 286 increased their leads downwind while 4 of us were match racing, trying to keep our wind ahead and clear from the others. It was awesome downwind racing. As we all sailed downwind to our port layline, the wind shifted again to the left and four of us had to sail on a tight reach to the mark. We kept the spinnaker all the way down and with a great take down, passed a boat in the way, now 3rd around the mark, chasing USA 286. USA 274 was out of reach. We needed to get closer to strike again downwind. We sailed upwind, not being able to catch USA 286 but increased our distance over the chasing boats behind us.
A little after tacking, and now on our starboard layline, the wind shifted back to the north and increase dramatically in a couple of minutes. With the main traveller all the way down, the jib hard on flat and hiking out, we could not keep the boat flat. The main was flogging and all the Open 5.70 found themselves, with still one downwind ride to go, in a massive 25-30 knots squall!! As we stayed on a close-haul, we separated from the mark. With enough distance, we eased main and jib as much as possible, kept the boat flat and accelerated. Our speed jumped from 5 knots to 12 knots, when we rounded the weather mark! We were now just behind USA 286 and passed them to leeward as they rounded up! We had a clean set but it took us a little while to get our boat speed up. Finally, we hit 12 knots but rounded up in our gybe. We got the boat back in pace and we were now screaming downwind to the finish at 15 knots to claim our 2nd place for the race. Out of nowhere, the knot of our tack line slipped and our spinnaker was now flying high in the air. We got it down, and my courageous crew managed to retie the knot. We gybed and set the spinnaker again. Three boats had passed us and we crossed the finish 5th. A little disappointed but happy about these last 15 minutes of screaming wind! The RC called the race for the day, which put us after 2 races in 4th place, one point behind 3rd and 2nd place, but 3 points behind USA 279.
Race 3 – View Kattack Replay
It was going to be a tough day for a podium place. The pin was favored again and we took a decent start. With enough room to clear some starboard starters, we tacked to port and were now leading the fleet to the weather mark. The wind was shifty and light. It was really close racing with many tacks and several changes in position during the first upwind leg. We managed to round the mark ahead and kept our lead all the way to the finish, with USA 169 hot on our heels, upwind and downwind during the entire race. We were back in the game, with now 8 points, just one point away from the leader, USA 279.
Race 4 – View Kattack Replay
One goal: match race USA 279 and keep an eye on a couple of boats, still only a few points behind us. The line was clearly favored for a port start. Our first attempt, at race 1, in crossing the fleet on port completely failed. However, within 45 seconds from the start, we noticed that USA 279 was also going for a pin start, on port. With starboard boats forced to follow the line – very difficult to cross on starboard – we jumped in, took the stern of 3 boats and crossed the starting line, clear, on port tack. USA 279 was stuck at the pin and we were already leading the pack. USA 279 was not too far away. We stuck to the plan and started a loose cover on USA 279. They were sailing fast and high. We had to tack a couple of times just to secure our cover and we were now racing with USA 279, upwind, and match racing for first place. We rounded the mark first and increased our lead. Upwind was relaxing: it is easier once in the front. The rest of the fleet was still close racing but with clean air and plenty of options, we were heading to our 2nd first place of the day, winning the Midwinter Regatta. We had a great day on the water and the racing was fantastic!
Full Results on California Yacht Club website.
Open 5.70 – USA 275