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Sunday, December 18, 2016

December 14, 2016-Tequila is the New Champagne

wingssail images-judy jensen
Race to the Finish Line

Tension was high among Wings' crew as we watched the boats closing in on our right, side by side with us. The two boats were screaming towards the finish line and they were looking hot. It was hard to tell if they were faster or if we were holding them off. The racing was already tight; in just the last minute we'd passed two others on our left, barely, but now these two on the right were coming on fast, maybe too fast. They could be gaining. Were they gaining? It was hard to tell. We were still ahead but would the finish line come soon enough?

No one onboard was speaking, there were no sounds other than the sheet running in and out and the periodic, soft but urgent, "sheet" whispered from the trimmer, followed by the sudden answering rattle of the winch drum spinning, then, "OK", and then silence again. No one dared move lest the spell be broken; hold on, we might do it.

The ten people aboard Wings were all trying to will our boat faster. Myself, I was confident. As I watched the relative angles of the three boats it was clear to me: our nose was out in front, we'd cross first. We held our course steady, soaking down towards the finish while our main competitors sailed higher, toying with each other, destroying their chances.

OK with me, I thought and then the radio call came: "8986". We'd done it, first in the race and therefore first in the regatta.

Two first places and a second.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold

The crew was jubilant, euphoric. We broke out in a loud, triumphant, spontaneous cheer, "Yeah!"

I spun the boat downwind and we dropped the kite.

wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Tequila is the new Champagne

Now we needed some champagne but, silly us, we had no champagne on board. We had plenty of Tequila so we celebrated with that. It worked. Tequila is the new Champagne.

The Banderas Bay Blast not really a grand prix race, it’s even called a “rally” by some, but the racing over three days was serious and intense so we were quite pleased to win convincingly.

Sunday’s triangle race started off well enough for us; we scorched the fleet up the coast to the first mark and led the way down to Nuevo. But behind us, moving well on the light air reach, was Vanishing Girl, a Beneteau 40 we haven’t raced against before. They are rated 40 seconds a mile faster than us but we held them off most of the first reach and then after they got by at the gybe mark, stuck closely to them on the final leg, and we knew we had our time on them. Disaster hit when the breeze failed completely 1 mile from the finish. We were at that time about 1/3 mile behind Vanishing Girl but it took us 10 minutes to finish. We had to settle for second place.

Monday’s race was a nine mile beat from La Cruz to Punta Mita featuring a reverse start where the slowest boats go off first and the faster boats start later. Again we scorched the fleet. Starting 58 minutes behind the first boat we passed all of them by the half way point and finished the race in first place 8 minutes ahead of the next boat, Bright Star. Since Bright Star started 2 minutes before us, it meant that we gained 10 minutes in a 9 mile race. We only owed them 9 seconds a mile but we beat them by 60 seconds a mile. Our new sails are sterling upwind. Vanishing Girl was fourth.

Tuesday found us facing a 14 mile run from Punta Mita to Nuevo Vallarta and another reverse start. We waited around the start line while all but two boats set their spinnakers and headed off towards Nuevo before we were allowed to go. But then it was our turn and the chase was on. We sailed aggressively after the leaders, slowly grinding down boat after boat, while constantly watching over our shoulders for the fast boats behind who were chasing us. It was no surprise that Vanishing Girl was back there creeping up on us but it did shock us to see Alarife as well hanging in there with us; they were remarkably fast. At least two times they tried to pass by sailing higher and taking our wind. A couple of firm luffs discouraged them from coming to close to windward of us and then when they sailed farther to windward to keep clear we took advantage of a slight shift and bore away. It was a gain for us. Finally the race came down to the five boats closing in on the finish under spinnaker, virtually overlapped.

What tension, what fun!

We had fun celebrating our victory.

That night there was a big party at the yacht club and we relived all the good moments from the racing with our competitors and danced until we were too tired.

Click here for a few more photos.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, La Cruz Huancaxtle

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