Archive for May, 2006


How the west was won

May 3, 2006   

by Ashley Perrin posted on Sailing Anarchy

Most people know the story – Pyewacket RP 86 was donated to OCC School of Seamanship. The boat has been altered but not as reported to dumb it down for the new crew. The keel was shortened from 18 to 13.5 feet as was the forward rudder 12 feet to 9 feet. These changes were to allow the boat to be berthed at the Newport Beach base of OCC. These changes necessitated a decrease in the mainsail area and a smaller bowsprit (6 foot instead of 12). Despite these changes (depowering the boat) the rating went from -249 in last years Newport Ensenada race to -270 in this year’s race – go figure. We owed Staghound, for example, 219 seconds per mile, or about 7 ½ hours for the race so handicap honors were not likely. We were hoping for line honors, however. The crew this weekend was a mix of pros, amateurs, locals and sailors from out of town. Thursday was the first time we sailed the boat with this combination of crew. For most of the crew, it was only their second time on the boat. We practiced for 4 hours and, needless to say, the learning curve was steep for many. The crew list was

1. Brad Avery – co skipper – Director of the OCC School
Of Seamanship
2. Keith Kilpatrick – co skipper – Amer Sports One
3. Chris Hackett
4. Greg Hedrick – the boat’s original boat captain
5. Brian Janney – pit
6. Erik Klopfenstein – current boat captain
7. Erik Kristiansen – jib trimmer
8. Michael Lamb
9. Mike Nash – jib trimmer
10.Eric Lidecis – Star sailor
11.Ryan O’Grady – Sailing Anarchy contributor from East Coast
12.Tom O’Keefe – Sailing Anarchy, sailed 30 Newport Ensenada’s
13.Ashley Perrin – bow, yours truly :
14.John Peschelt – grinder
15.Randy Smith
16.Stuart Streuli – Sailing World Associate Editor from East Coast
17.Kim Zuelsdorf – Women’s Ocean Racing Sailing Association
18.Craig Fletcher – tactics
19.John Fuller
20.Sean Farrell – bow – interesting guy who went on a sea kayaking expedition in the Aleutians Islands partially funded by the National Geographic and is now a lawyer.
21. David Kruger – grinder – coast collage rowers
22. Val Stepanchuk – grinder – coast collage rowers
23. Payson Infelise
24. John Demourkas – owner of Grooverderci, mast/bow
25. Deneen Demourkas – owner of Grooverderci, the one who named the guest bird on the boat, Gus!

The start was upwind into 7 knots from SE so we started with R1-2 and tacked offshore (we were well back from the line). The wind dropped to 3-5 knots and we changed to the genoa staysail and then changed to the A0-2 (Code 0 cut down). Near the Coronado’s we hoisted the A1-3 (set up for inside gybes – a 508m2 VMG kite) and carried it to Todos Santos Bay. We met with light shifty conditions (the norm apparently) requiring several changes in the dark (there was only a sliver of a moon). The light air made maneuvers difficult. The Code 0 is a straight line sail and even if things go smoothly the boat slows considerably in a tack or gybe as the sail has to be fully furled to get it between the two ‘headstays’.

We hoisted the Code 0. Problem 1: Boat speed died as we couldn’t carry the kite and the Code 0 wouldn’t unfurl. Embarrassingly (for me on the bow) we had to drop both sails but found the gremlins had been at work. The top furling mechanism somehow caught the slack spinnaker leech line (exposed for one foot at top of kite) so the two sails were ‘meshed’ together and the furling mechanism wouldn’t work.

Checked the halyards weren’t crossed and rehoisted the code 0. Problem 2: Again it would not unfurl fully. Very frustrating for the whole boat especially for Keith who was struggling without steerage. Sean was sent to the top of the mast (120 feet) to find the starboard topmast halyard was slack in the rehoist of the Code 0 on the port topmast halyard so that when we attempted to unfurl it ‘candy caned’ around the top of the furling unit. I was left at the base of the mast insisting that we had not been complete idiots and crossed the halyards!!

Meanwhile on deck, I was setting back up for either an A1-3 (VMG kite) or a J2-2 (jib) while attempting to tack and gybe the boat with the small amount of Code 0 that we could furl and unfurl. This process is difficult as the furling line is continuous so you furl, tack the boat then have to resist the jib trimmer’s attempts to unfurl as the furling line has to be disengaged from the drum before unfurling. Disengaging is a two person job as one person holds the sail to stop it unfurling while the other person lines the line up on the drum exits and pushes the cage down to disengage the line. After unfurling I then would reengage the line so that we could furl whenever needed. Do this in the dark with lines that are all the same texture and very very similar color.

When Sean got down we hoisted the A1-3 again and got into 12 knots of wind allowing us to cover the last few miles pretty quickly. We did a few inside gybes which got better as we did more and then to cross the line we hoisted the J2-2. We finished at 5:08am with an elapsed time of 17 hours 8 minutes and 20 seconds.

Great boat. The canting keel and sailing at 2 knots faster than the wind speed is nice. The boat has been well looked after by OCC and is in great condition.

Great food too: Pasta and kebabs made by Mette Segerblom of OCC who has three kids so has better things to do then make us dinner.

Lots of wildlife: dolphins, whale and a bird Deneen called Gus, and lots of kelp (a new one for me) – we have cutters on each foil. All in all a great time thanks to Roy Disney for donating the boat and giving us the opportunity. The crew was great fun to sail with.

We pulled into the breakwater and half the crew got off on a water taxi while the rest of us delivered the boat back to Newport Beach via San Diego. We got the boat back home at 11:30 on Saturday night.

In closing I can’t help but compare (even though it is not oranges to oranges) – last year the boat was 12th in class, this year 6th. Last year they were 23 minutes ahead of Magnitude 80 and this year we were 2 hours and 57 minutes ahead. A surprise to us as when the lights went out on Friday night there were a few maxis in sight. So we are feeling good about ourselves!