Friends and supporters of Ocean Planet,
What a great weekend!
In only her second race, Ocean Planet made a clean sweep in a classic Northern California event. The race, run since 1926, is called the “Windjammers,” and is an annual 70 mile run from San Francisco to the popular beach town of Santa Cruz. Since this is a crewed race, we went with a team of six.
The first gun was at 1 p.m. on Friday. Starting an Open 60 in a fleet of smaller boats is a bit nerve-wracking, but we managed to squeeze through. We raced out the Golden Gate, past Mile Rock, and then the fleet worked south against a light to moderate southwest wind. A fleet of Santa Cruz 50’s and 52’s were in the start ahead of us, so we worked our way through them with Ocean Planet feeling quite powerful. Finally the wind shifted to the northwest and all the boats set the spinnakers.
We still don’t have our full inventory of sails, but fortunately Steve Rander, the builder of Ocean Planet and the owner of “Rage,” loaned us one of the spinnakers from Rage. The two boats use the same size spinnakers, so the kite fit perfectly. Thanks to Steve and the gang at Schooner Creek Boat Works! I wish they all could have been with us as we left all the 50’s and 52’s far behind instantly. The fog was settling in, so we watched the other boats on radar, although they were quickly out of range! We timed our jibe towards the shore to catch the last of the breeze around Pt. Ano Nuevo, then we took a jibe back out. The most wind we had was about 18 kts, but still managed to surf up to 16.6 kts, and averaged about 13 kts for a while. We could go faster (through the water) by sailing hotter angles, but got better VMG (velocity made good) by sailing lower. There is a lot to learn about what Ocean Planet likes best, every time we go out I learn more.
As night fell the wind died, with us still 7 miles from the finish. A barely noticeable easterly wind came up and we crawled the remaining distance. Ocean Planet is really good in light air, so we were able to cross the growing wind hole before it shut down. A final drama: we snagged a bunch of kelp on the keel with a mile to go. I wanted to sail backwards to get it off, but crewmember Greg Nelson talked me into going straight for the finish since it was so close. That was the right call as it didn’t take very long, and we crossed the line at 9:30 p.m. The next boat, a Santa Cruz 52, was more than 2 hours later, and most of the boats didn’t get in until the next morning. Even on handicapped time, Ocean Planet was first place. There were a lot of visitors to see the boat, and even our competitors (many are supporters of Ocean Planet and the Made in America Foundation) were happy that we won.