local knowledge needed
Anarchist Pete checks in from his Tartan Turbo Ten “Old School” from The Border Run:
Well it wasn’t what was in the brochure. Advertised as a nice downwind run to Mexico and a finish in San Diego this year’s Border Run was anything but. 227 boats all starting at once in 5 gates the breeze was out of the south 8-10. Wind was supposed to eventually go right with the high pressure system and we would be able to set a kite but that didn’t happen. We sailed out east of rumb on starboard tack for about an hour. We tacked to port to get out of the melee of boats and get out into some clear air. The forecast was for more pressure on the shore in the early afternoon but eventually dying so we tacked back starboard to get into the better breeze. By about 3:30 we didn’t want to press our luck on shore anymore so we headed back out on port for about 3-4 hours and got out around 10-12 miles where the breeze was supposed to be still good. A lot of the fleet had went even further out hoping to take advantage more breeze and the progressive lift that was supposed to occur but that would prove to be very painful. We finally tacked back to starboard 3 miles west of rumb and headed for Coronado del Norte. By around 7:30 the wind had lifted enough that we got to set our new Code Zero and we were lucky to have it delivered on Friday as it proved to be sail of the race. I went off watch around 9:00.
At 10:30 I got awoken to "hey, we gotta do a sail change or something, it’s getting real weird up here". Got up on deck and the Windex was doing 360’s and sails were flapping. In that stuff you just have to tough it out and wait for it fill. Breeze up, breeze down – very frustrating. We got a brief glimmer of hope when the wind backed some more and we set the 1/2oz but it proved too jumpy in the fluky conditions so back to the Code Zero. My crew worked extremely hard during the night keeping the boat going but we were pretty much sailing in our own private Idaho and as most of you know that is either really good or really bad. No boats around us all night. With the exception of a few stragglers that stayed on shore, most of the fleet had went way out so we had no idea what our position was. Finally, around 3:00am we starting coming up on a set of running lights and we would get some idea of how we were doing. It was good news, Airwaves, a Frers 50 from the IOR 50 days that rates 25. In our Turbo configuration we rate 108 OWC with masthead kites so we thought we were in decent company. About a half an hour later a Beneteau 10R crossed our transom that rates 63 so we figured we couldn’t be doing that bad.
Dawn arrived about 6 miles north of Coronado del Norte and some boats started to appear at the island, about 12 of them. It was good news again, we were only an hour back from Pendragon and all the sleds which owed us 4-5 hours so were in good shape. Finally rounding the island we got the kite up and it was more of the same, wind up, wind down – boat going 1.5 knots, boat going 7 knots. I was still a little suspect of our position. In order to sail to our 108 rating we need a lot of kite time and with 74 miles upwind and only 17 miles downwind that would be tough. 10 miles out of San Diego we made the classic amateur mistake, celebrating before you finish. But with only negative raters in front of us and everyone else behind us it looked like a lock for section and probably fleet. Double bullets, nice.
I had appointed a guy I sailed with for many years and lives in San Diego as navigator and he did a excellent job all night in giving me our position, position relative to rumb, distance from rumb, distance from the shore etc. and living in San Diego I figured he would get us to the finish. As we came rolling into San Diego harbor doing 7 knots and cracking beers we couldn’t find the finish. We cranked all the way down the channel to Shelter Island before we realized we had missed it. Kite down, Genoa back up we turned around and sailed back out and low and behold it was right where they said it would be, just on the other side of the jetty. 45 minutes sailing past it, over an hour sailing back to it we finally finished but had given the fleet back over 2 hours.
Even with sailing an extra 2 hours beyond what we needed to we still managed 2nd in our section. In the end it was my screw up. It is the owners responsibility to make sure you know where the finish is. Check and double check. A lesson I had thought I had learned a long time ago but was too busy thinking about where I was going to put the trophy’s to remember it.
Oh well, that’s sailboat racing. The sting will wear off at the start of the next race. Everyone on the boat worked hard and we had a good time.