Cabo San Lucas. Bag packed. Early AM call to head back to San Diego on our boat, the ORMA 60 Mighty Merloe.
I just finished editing video which gave me a moment to think about the race. For those unfamiliar: It’s a classic West Coast 800-mile downwinder from Newport Beach to Cabo San Lucas on the southern tip of the Baja peninsula, hosted by the Newport Harbor Yacht Club.
This year’s edition saw predominately light wind down the course. The fleet slatted their way through Southern California waters and into Mexico. Rio 100 dropped out just south of the border and returned to San Diego for lack of wind, sparking epidemic retirement among the fleet. In the end, only six of the 22 boats entered would finish the race.
On our boat we had a fierce battle against the MOD 70 Phaedo. Ultimately, Phaedo took line honors in a time of 3d 0h 37m 43s to our 3d 2h 24m 08s. The finish was even more exciting than the delta might suggest. On the last morning we were chasing Phaedo on starboard toward the lay line, when our navigator came on deck with a proposal.
“Guys,” said Artie, “if we follow we might close the gap a bit, and maybe we’ll correct out ahead. But we won’t beat them to the line. If we jibe toward the beach, we might catch the afternoon thermal along the shore. It’s high risk, but it’s our only shot at finishing ahead.”
Of course we went for it.
We sailed on port toward shore dodging sea turtles until we could smell the tacos in Todos Santos. To our dismay the wind grew lighter, stuck stubbornly at 310, and we lost our shirts on the move.
Those of less whimsy might blame the failed shift on a lack of temperature differential to generate the thermal, but I think it might have had something to do with an episode from the night before.
We were cruising along at 18 knots across the silver moonlit water, full foil down, center rudder up, when suddenly there was violent thud and the boat began to swerve.
As we scrambled to lower the center rudder, I thought that the leeward rudder had broken off. Center rudder down, I shone my headlamp toward the leeward rudder. Intact. Next I swung my light toward the foil, where I found the problem: a shark was folded in half around the foil, dragging through the water. A quick lift and drop of the foil remedied the problem.
However, I think nature has a way of taking care of its own, so maybe our failed shift was the wind gods’ revenge for the death of a shark.
Congratulations and thanks to Phaedo for a great race. We’re looking forward to racing them again soon in the Newport to Ensenada Race and this summer in the Transpac.
We on Merloe often sit around scratching our heads wondering why don’t more people race these kinds of boats? Ask any of us from Merloe or Phaedo and you will quickly find out how much we love our boats.
In wind unbearably light for the majority of the fleet we had a great race. It’s not for everyone I guess, but we recommend it. – Will Suto