J/125 TIMESHAVER Cruises Puerto Vallarta Race
(San Diego, CA)- One of the classic West Coast long distance races started a week ago, the 1,000nm Puerto Vallarta Race, with a lot of promise and hope for reasonably quick race. Certainly the big boats were thinking it had the prospects for a record year. But, who knew that a spoiler could be a J/125!? Certainly, the West Coast cognoscenti of offshore sailing know that a J/125 in the right conditions is not to be discounted as a fleet leader. Anyone ever seen this movie before? Remarkably, it is one that continues to be repeated yet again for the record books of Californian and Pacific Ocean offshore racing history.
While the name may not be familiar, like Dr. Laura from Santa Barbara, Andy Costello of DOUBLE TROUBLE fame from San Francisco, or Jim Madden from San Diego on another insanely fast STARK RAVING MAD, this crew was equally as determined as all those famous J/125 teams before them. Sure enough, the weather prognosticators were wrong. And the prime beneficiary was Division 3 2nd place finisher and 3rd overall finisher, the J/125 TIMESHAVER sailed by Viggo Torbensen from Dana Point Yacht Club. Viggo and crew were hoping the predominant NNW to NNE winds would prevail in the 15-25 knots range, prime surfing/planing weather for the J/125 offshore speedster. Sure enough, that’s what they got for the first three days of the race. Then, the wind shut down off Cabo. Here are some of the reports from Keith Magnussen (“K-Mag”) aboard TIMESHAVER and from one of their erstwhile competitors, Wayne Zittel from J/World San Francisco.
On Monday, K-Mag and the boys on Timeshaver were leading the fleet to Puerto Vallarta. Here’s an account of life onboard. “After driving back from new Orleans and getting one night of sleep it was time to hop on a the J-125 (the best designed J-Boat ever) ‘Timeshaver” and race to PV. I was going to try and report every day but with the conditions we have had that has been impossible. We started out well and took a little inside route than the other boats in our class past the Coronado Islands. Seemed to work out and when we got the 3A up we managed to work outside where we wanted to be. Day turned to night and the fun began… Wind builds and it is on. This thing is a MACHINE! When owner Viggo Torbenson bought it I was salivating at the chance to drive it in big breeze. With a crew of Long time friends Daniel Geismen and Ben Lakin, as well as buddies Jeff Shenton and Jack Maranto, I knew PV was the race to be on.
So around 9ish on Thursday Daniel, Jack and I came out for a 3 hours shift. Instantly the wind started to persistently build into the 20’s (I assume this as the only instruments we had are heading and boat speed) and the boat really started to light up. 15’s consistent and planning modes (yes this J-Boat actually planes) into the upper 18’s. Connecting waves is easy and we were in our mode. Wind builds, reef in, 6A up and it is getting fun. We we wake up to more wind and bigger waves. Speeds in the 20’s and a good day. Night falls and the wind builds again! our watch is on and we have the 4A up with a reef in the main. The boat is pitch black as we are having trouble with our electric system (got it fixed thankfully)…lots of water involved. We are so fast and all I can do driving is put the boat into the darkest spot in front of me. This has to have been some of the most fun and intense sailing I have ever done. The boat performs like a dream in these conditions but at the same time makes you pucker up like a… well you figure it out. But if you have ever driven a boat like this in 30+ and big swells you know what I am talking about.
Crew work is amazing and we’re having a blast. Daniel is driving and asks me if we should put the 6A up.. can’t look at true wind indicator so I just say let me drive for a minute– holy crap! Waves are coming from both directions behind so you are never below 18 as you hop from wave to wave.. epic. But he is right.. way to much power. All crew on deck.. 6A up and the shackles bust so no sheets. Jack is really good on the bow and we manage to get the sail down. #4 up as we band the 6A (I hit 18 with main up alone!) Takes a while but the 6A goes up as the wind starts to die.
Sunday morning hits and we are drifting. Dry the boat out pack sails and get the morning check in… First in class and first overall. Let’s hope we can negotiate this light crummy stuff and make the first few days of really pushing the boat count.”
Meanwhile, over on Wayne’s J/WORLD “Hula Girl”, their battling TIMESHAVER for Division 3 leadership. As Wayne describes it, “This morning, as expected, the breeze for us out here in the 2012 San Diego to Puerto Vallarta race began to die. It was a prolonged, slow death, which gave us time to go from the jib top, to the code 0, to the 2A, to the 1A, and in the early evening, to the ultimate in agony, to slatting mode. We expect it’s the same inshore. At the morning roll call, the boats along the beach were reporting 4-5 knots while we still carried 8-10… so hopefully we have had a bit more out here than on the inside. And now our breeze has shifted around to the West (5 knots from 270 at the moment) and filled a touch and we are scooting along on perfectly flat seas doing some 1.4 times windspeed straight at Puerto Vallarta, 400 miles to go.
As far as standings, who knows what’s going to happen. The big boats are going to hit a wall (but honestly I haven;t been looking too closely at their weather, since what’s going on locally has been keeping me busy). The J/125 is sitting pretty in first. We were actually second in class, second overall at roll call, but Ocelot didn’t check in and I suspect they have been rumbling. We were pretty much boat-for-boat with Blue Blazes in terms of distance to finish and they are well inside us so that will provide a good benchmark for what is working at tomorrow morning’s roll call.
Not much else to report, it was a long day. Weird little red crabs all around the boat. Yours truly took a dive off the bow to snatch a piece of stubborn kelp form the keel as she skid by at a not very intimidating 1 knot.”
By day four, it’s clear the crews are pushing the envelope of sanity. As Wayne says, “It’s a drifter out here as we dig into day five of the PV Race. By our math, we did something in the neighborhood of 92 miles from 7am to 7am yesterday… by race committee math and distance down the course figuring, it was shy of that by a dozen or so. Either way you slice it, it was a slow day. And today is no different… worse, in fact, if the first 12 hours is any indication. We’ve been upwind and downwind on both port and starboard tack. Every puff brings a sail change, then hope (for persistence), then disappointment. Kids, it;s a primer for life! But we know that there is an end to this, and it’s all gonna be all right… the wind will blow again!
I think we are still sitting ok. Good shot at second, and in this stuff, no lead is safe, so we’ll keep chomping at the J/125 Timeshaver. Looks like they jibed/tacked/drifted/teleported (whatever the fluky conditions would permit) south with us to defend their substantial lead… Blue Blazes caught a bit in terms of straight-line distance, but we have still been working south when the opportunity presents itself, so I think we sacrificed mileage for positioning and I’m ok with that. Not sure what happened to Ocelot… they have dropped back, while Miramar has actually scooted up… with all the time we all owe them, they will benefit with the light stuff in this time-on-time scoring (as will the J/125)… when we are all stopped, they are both kicking our butts!
In the meantime: house (boat) cleaning, drying out, repacking sails, showers, and general reorganization. Lots of sea turtles. Sea lions. Some small dolphins, bored with us ’cause we are poking along so slowly. The little red crabs came back for a bit. And one friendly big yellowfin who followed our rudder all morning. Got right up next to it with the waterproof camera. Were there wasabi aboard, that fish wouldn’t have stood a chance, but in the spirit of oneness with our environment (Grasshopper), we simply admired it and welcomed it’s company, and aquatic Albatross, we hope. Plus, would have been tough to filet with a rigging knife. And as Joel was saying today, all this stuff we would have missed had we come flying thru here at 10, 15, 20 knots, so there is a positive side to this light stuff, this slowing-down-and-smelling-the-roses thing….
But enough already. We want the breeze back. It would have been a looonnnggg day, but for the company aboard. Seriously having a great time with this crew. It hurts from laughing so much. That’s one of the fun things about doing so many events with new crews… getting to meet and get to know all kinds of sailors from all over. This team is mostly from San Diego, my home town, so it’s been particularly fun.
Almost 8pm now. A couple hours ago it shifted to the NW and started to fill ever so slightly… 4,5, occasional 6 now… but the really good news is that this, finally, is the prevailing direction and we hope it will stabilize now. We’re not supposed to see much build over the next couple days, but slow and steady is a far cry better than what we’ve been doing.” And so it went for all on this year’s PV race.
Kudos to Viggo and K-Mag and the team for a job well done on the Puerto Vallarta Race– amazing performance. Thanks also for contributions from Sailing Anarchy writers Wayne Zittel and Keith Magnussen.