Keith Kilpatrick, boat captain of Rio 100, who just crushed the elapsed time record to Hawaii via the Pac Cup gives it to us straight from the big rig..
Big boat, check
Great crew, check
Phenomenal weather, check
Luck, check
These are the basic ingredients of a record setting run, and we had them in spades.
Prior to the start, some of our routing had us finishing in 4 days, 6 hours! All I could think of was can we go that fast for 4 days without some kind of breakdown? How bad will the seaway be the first night when we might see up to 40! How will our girl 2.5 days of running in 25 to 30? Well, it was as good and bad as I thought it would be.
Race day forecasts had slowed down a bit from earlier in the week, but it was still providing a record run. The big variable was how long it would take us to wiggle out to the synoptic breeze which was looming 60 to 80 miles offshore. The breeze at the start was typical of a summer day, 20 knots, but forecasted to drop quickly once we were outside the gate. That was the case, and all of the boats in our start slowly clawed our way to the breeze. We started to get a sniff around midnight, and by 2am, we were on our way. We quickly went from full main and J2, to 2 reefs and our J5. The breeze topped out at 38 and it was wet and wild. Big breeze, breaking waves and water everywhere. The key to this part of the race was to try not dribble off south and give away miles.
As predicted, the wind slowly abated and clocked, so we gradually added sail area. We had to keep the peddle down, as there was a risk of the high ridging, and taking away any chance of a record.
By late Sunday night, the wind had come around enough for us to set our new 3A. It’s a straight luff sail that we hoped would fill a soft spot on our crossover chart. Boy did it!! We put this sail up, and didn’t take it down until we had to go back to the R2 to lay the finish.
From a tactical standpoint, it was a fairly simple race. Carry on on starboard board until the wind shifted to 50, gybe and head for the finish. That’s pretty much how it went, but we were forced to gybe back to starboard once early on and once to get to the finish.
After our slow start, the after guard was pretty quiet about our record chances, so everyone thought it was out of reach. After all, it was a very fast time set by a 146′ yacht. Once there was a sniff of a chance, it was akin to a pitcher with a no hitter going. Nobody wanted to talk about it!
Well as you all know by now, we did break the record, and what a run it was! Fast, wet, loud, and stressful.
I know some of you out there will say if so and so had come, they would have beat you. To that, I agree. There are much faster 100 footers than ours, but they didn’t start, and more importantly, didn’t finish with no major breakages, and therefore, the record belongs to us!