Ocean Planet – Update – Puerto Vallarta Race Update
Feb. 26, 2002
Hi Mates!! You know I got on board in SF to head to San Diego with a sack of oranges from my back yard, and obviously all the other boats have apples. Welcome to Open 60 racing. On the one hand, it’s frustrating to be grinding against these boats that have been optimized for moderate conditions, on the other, it’s great for us because we’ve been able to really focus in detail on trimming in running conditions to optimize Ocean Planet.
For instance, in light air running, when you’d think that you should throw all weight overboard, we are faster tanked up with water ballast and sheeted in hard. The trick is to go as fast and high as possible on the apparent wind. Takes some getting used to for our crew (I can’t drive all the time…). With more wind you can ease the sheets and even dump ballast as you square up. Last night was beautiful, with a full moon and warm, moderate air. At one point we flew by a boat from the fleets that had started in the days before us like they were standing still. What fun, they must have wondered: “Who in the heck is that!?”
Today’s morning sched put us in a good mood. While not caught up yet with Merlin and Magnitude, we have put away the SC 70’s and TP 52’s and are sailing fast. This is in spite of having our big kite flying from the upper genniker halyard which is almost 10ft lower than our (now missing) masthead halyard. Yeah that was our Saturday evening entertainment. A full-on shrimp which Steve Hodges heroically managed to reel in and organize. We had to re-set from our jenniker halyard, and in the course of heading up to straigthen things out, “lost” a garden full of kelp that we’d been carrying as passenger since early in the race.
By mid-day Sunday it was apparent that our tactic of heading out to catch bigger breezes than the 9-11 that the race was serving up, may have cost us. Monday and Tuesday have been spent getting squared up on an attack line of the course. Magnitude is well ahead and Merlin is gunning for her. Last nite, Merlin made an interesting move close to shore which at first looked wacky, but a westerly shift has made their jibe angle coming off the beach pretty good. But Magnitude maintains the controlling lead in our division. Victoria is leading the TP 52’s and the SC 70’s Mongoose and GI (Grand Illusion) were locked together as of roll call this morning.
Merlin and Magnitude are turbosleds optimized for light-moderate offwind running and have much more sail area than Ocean Planet. But we are lighter and have the water ballast at our disposal. In the heavy running that Ocean Planet is designed for she will come alive, and of course you couldn’t even race Merlin or Magnitude singlehanded in those conditions.
This race is far from over, especially given the light easterlys that are predicted for tomorrow. In very light air upwind OP is lethal, which we demonstrated on the starting line saturday where we easily pulled away from all. So our goal is to get positioned for the wind change and look forward to the chance to strike back!
Skipper, OCEAN PLANET