Being Therelocal knowledgeOcean Racingon boardRace Report

double jugged

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 1.54.26 PMWhile the 2017 Pineapple Cup once again sees a tiny fleet taking the start line in just a few minutes’ time, we’re happy to see the race happening for another year.  It’s the ultimate Western Hemisphere big boat race course, and it always provides great stories for the competitors and for those of us stuck on dry land.  Here’s a pre-race report from Michael Hennessey aboard the Class 40 Dragon.  Pre-race photo gallery at the event Facebook Page and track the fleet here.
It looks like a classic.  Forecast is for us to start out in relatively light easterlies, with a shift to the NE with a bit more pressure coming over night.  That sets up a tactical beat from the start out over the top of Great Isaac, one of mny Bahamian islands we will be passing by over the next couple of days.  The key will be how far to push the first beat to the NE.  With that impending shift coming, you risk overstanding and giving up precious miles to the competition. At the same time, you want to use the Gulf Stream while you have it in order to get North.
This first leg is tactically important because whom ever makes it to the Northeast corner of Eluthera first gets the chance to turn down into the reach that will be the eastern side of the Bahamas.  The forecast is to build, maybe into the low twenties, and it is going to be a fast ride so those who get there first will leg out on the fleet.  This middle third of the race is also a parade… no passing lanes, no strategy, just pedal down speed.  The best you can hope for is to get there first.
Then through the windward passage between Cuba and Haiti and you turn further downwind towards Montego Bay.  This last third is all about the VMG running, surfing wave after wave.  Strategy comes back into play with the decisions about which lane to take across the Caribbean, and when / where to make your gybes.  It is champagne sailing when the conditions are right, and at the moment they look oh, so right!
The fleet may look a bit small with 11 boats, but there is some great hardware in this year’s edition.  We are going to be benchmarking ourselves against the other Class40, Amhas with the added challenge that they are fully crewed with some impressive talent and I chose to go doublehanded with the even more impressive Kyle Hubley as my co-skipper.  We think we are up to the challenge.  And we also hope to handicap out well against the other boats.
This is my third time doing this race and I keep coming back because the course has the promise of so much awesome sailing, and the reception at Montego Bay is unrivaled in its hospitality.  I am looking forward to getting there and drinking down some of that cold Red Stripe!