the war and how to lose it

K Mag shares the thrill of certain victory, and the agony of unnecessary defeat…

Thanks to a website called Sailing Anarchy for putting me in a place where people ask me to write a story about my latest adventure.  It is sometimes daunting when you think about how many people actually read this website (yes the front page is still relevant haters).

The NHYC-Cabo San Lucas race concluded last week and thanks to a big swell I have spent my time surfing and not sailing or writing.  My arms are like jelly and I am finally back in the USA.  By now, most people who followed the race have heard many stories from many boats.  Perhaps we have all moved on to the next thing, but hey I am still coming down from my trip.

Once again the boat is the J-125 Timeshaver and once again I have the pleasure of sailing with good friends Viggo Torbensen, Blake Hamilton, Jack Maranto and Charlie Underwood.  Also in the mix was a hired hand from the Netherlands, land of the Orange, Amsterdam and the wonderful Dutch personality. Jochem came on board as the electronic, expedition expert and navigator.  How would he like the Timeshaver way of doing things?  Always fun to have new people on board.

Let’s be brief about all this since most of us probably used Cliff notes to get through school, and quite frankly, most people want me to fast forward to the last 50 miles when we were first in class and second overall and beating our competition by hours.  Of course that is the part I want to forget.

Day One: Race starts in light air, we are a small mast and have a tough time getting away.  Flaca made the killer move by tacking and doing negative VMG for a while.  Our navigator made a comment on this but my thoughts were, “hey we almost won Ensenada doing that so I am sure it cannot be that bad.”  Sure enough the wind filled on the outside and we watched Flaca march over us.  That hardly ever happens but nice job guys!

Night One: Simple to explain, light air and typical Southern California conditions.  Outside won for Lucky Duck but we managed good things with the new 1A and passed some boats.  All is well.

Day Two:  This is where it gets good!  I am sleeping on my off shift and we are pleasantly moving along when it happens.  The starting battery has been drained and we are no longer able to charge.  We are off Ensenada so time to make a decision.  We have power stored for running lights, VHF and a handheld GPS that is perfect for hiking in Laguna.  You know what Captain Ron says, “The only instrument Columbus had to get him to the New World was his compass!”

So we go and decide to send it.  No instruments, no boat speed, no Expedition (I don’t mind that), no compass light and no mast head light for night.  No worries I know how to sail this boat and keep the dirt on the left.  We are near Flaca at this point and as the wind comes up we start to motor away.  In the space of the afternoon we put them on the horizon with the Horizon (SC-50) and my buddy’s the Hippie and his son Erik Shampain.  Good.

Wind builds and builds.  We go 4A to 3A to reefed main to fully submerged submarine in the middle of the night.  Sending it boys!  No crashing, full control, but scary shit.  Some of the most legendary sailing I have done.  I asked someone if he wanted to drive and he said he could not see anything.  What did he think I was looking at?

Here is the lesson: Learn how to sail your boat with no instruments, no wind angles, no wind speed and no lights blinding you.  It is an amazing feeling especially when you nail it.  You know… Just Go And Sail people!

Day Three:  A little less wind but still we are ramped up.  4A up and we are still feeling good, just not knowing how we are doing.  We have Lucky Duck in our view and are pulling away.  They are deeper but we are faster.  Check out the tracker off Mag Bay.  We finally fire up the computer and get a report. 1st in Class 2nd overall.  Lucky Duck is second.  I am on shift with my boys Charlie and Blake and we basically stick to them like glue.  Why leave your wingman, Goose?

The End: Yes the end was rapidly approaching.  Shift change and a different philosophy comes into play.  I am told we are splitting.  State of shock?  Yes.  Now watch the tracker as we quickly go the wrong way.  Lucky Duck and Horizon held out in the wind and we did not.

If you have sailed with me you know how grumpy I can get when going the wrong way.  If you were on this trip you saw me at 99%.  It felt wrong, I watched Lucky Duck sail away, and it felt so wrong. Some good things happened (buy the book) and we finally got around the tip and flogged our main with the 2A up just to get up to the finish.  Epic!

kmag hipEpic until we realize Horizon finished in front of us… that means the Lucky Duck crushed us! Congratulations to them.  At the dock I meet up with the Hippie and he has one thing to say, “You remember when New Zealand lost the America’s Cup?  This might be worse.”  Well maybe not, but we did beat him by 45 seconds, and if you know how our rivalry is then this is a good one to have in the bank until the next race.

The Aftermath:  Chilling in Cabo, sharing stories, hanging with my best friends and surfing for 5 days.  Overhead waves and some of the best rides ever.  Does it really matter that we did not win?  Do you even have to ask?

Man of the match: Bowman Jack Maranto for his good attitude, exceptional effort and putting up with everything that is thrown at him.  My favorite moment was wrangling in the 4A in 30kts of wind to put up the 5A.  Bow is gnarly at night with no lights, I will stick to the back of the boat please.

There is so much more to say at this point that was left out, but you will have to buy the book, or find me on the streets and ask me, that seems to be a popular thing to do these days.   – Keith Magnussen.