• Team Shut Up & Drive Report Leg 1

    We had a pre-race meeting so we can discuss our watch schedule (we didn't really need to do any watches but we wanted to test it out and practice our transitions), our navigator (Neil) took us through our strategy for the day.

    The forecast was for medium air, 18-22 knots which is middle of the range for the Figaro 2 - typically full main, water ballasts and weight on the rail. Power on and you let the boat take you on a wild ride.

    The boat is heavy for offshore (yeah, that's why we have four bikes), super solid and stable in heavy choppy lumpy seas, it negotiates waves extremely well and is very easy to drive in heavy-is conditions.

    The big decision of the race was which way to go around the Exclusion Zone (where several shipping lanes meet) - North or South. Distance was pretty much equivalent and we picked North for two reasons. The current seemed to be stronger based on the local current models that we checked and the wind seemed to be sustained. Also, we would be getting away from Point Wilson and the most lumpy seas faster, thus sailing faster earlier.

    This paid off quite nicely as we were able to stay up in the front of the pack with the fast boats that are by design faster than the Figaro 2 is in those conditions.

    The second reason we wanted to be on the Northern side of the course was the ebb - it was ripping and we would have most of the current with us pushing us toward Victoria. The Southern route would have a small component of the current against it.

    The drawback of the Northern route was that it would be pretty beating upwind all the time, except for about 30 min at the end of the race and as we went around the Exclusion Zone, but not enough on a reach to set a kite (in 20 knots with our Asym, we fly).

    Our goal for the day was to see how the team would stay focus, handle the sea state, optimize boat speed, trim and driving and familiarize ourselves with these waters. In particular we wanted to see how we paced against Sail Like a Girl as their boat is the most similar to the Figaro 2 and makes it a good benchmark.

    We sailed off the dock! What a pleasure, raised the jib and we had enough wind, downwind to easily maneuver out of the Port Townsend harbor. We raised the main as soon as we got out of the harbor and started setting up our trim for the race.

    We took it easy for the start but we crossed the line with the Shock 40, Dragon (Team Pear Shaped, we're a big fan) and Sail like a Girl. The Melges 24 was out there as well.

    We had good boat speed on and caught up to most of these boats except for Dragon but we were pretty good speed wise. Dragon and Sail Like a Girl seemed to be uncanvassed at the start (we plan on making aggressive sail changes if we have to to race the boat to its full potential no matter what).

    The conditions were very familiar to most of the sailors as they are pretty similar to what we see on the Potato Patch outside San Francisco Bay every summer...We adjusted quite a bit and fell into a routine. The wind speed was between 15 with gusts up to 22, but averaging about 18 knots initially. It went up to a 20 knot average but the gusts weren't much higher. We knew exactly where to set up each sail. We also knew exactly what wind angle to pick.

    We set the ballasts, had the crew hike hard for the first hour and just pounded through the waves. So much so that our cyclists got their morning shower...It was definitely a bit lumpy for their first outing on the boat in racing conditions!!!

    Because of the fairly large variation in wind and the heavy seas, we had to adjust sail trim quite a bit, particularly main trim so we worked hard on that, pairing the driver with a trimmer.

    Nat started to drive, and then Tanguy drove for a couple of hours as we started the rotation. Nat and Neil went off watch, sleeping on deck, and then below after a few waves convinced them that dedication could perhaps wait for leg 2...The Mustang Survival gear saved our asses, quite literally.

    Both drivers got about 2 hours of driving each and Neil expertly navigated around the Exclusion Zone. As soon as we were off the zone, it was just a beat all the way to Victoria. The seas calmed down a bit as we ventured further out into the strait but the wind remained strong.

    The Shock 40 soon came into sight as well as a trimaran - we used both these boats to push the team and we worked our hardest to keep up with them. Envolee gave all that she had and the ebb helped quite a bit, with our speed over ground around 10 and 11 knots!

    In these conditions, it was nice to have even more weight on the rail.

    Our food team regaled us with some additional breakfast while we were all on the rail.

    Closer to Victoria, we could crack off a little bit as it became clear that we were making the mark - there was a little wind hole which we could spot so we sailed a little bit around it and managed to stay in 10 knots of wind there, adjusting our trim accordingly.

    We had the cyclists organize the pedal drive for the cycling part as soon as we would get into Victoria Inner Harbor. We turned downwind only for 0.5 miles which we covered in about 6 min - as we got to the no sail zone, we dropped the Genoa and reached up for a few seconds, enough time for us to drop the mainsail and enough for the pedal drive to be dropped in the water - the boat continued to drift downwind and the cyclists took over.

    We continued toward the dock at 3.5 knots through the water and 4.5 knots as we were also going downwind and with the now teeny waves. We managed to keep a trimaran fast closing up on us behind, and we beat a ferry to the harbor.

    We rang the finish bell in 5th position - and congratulated Team Pear Shaped on their 1st place immediately!

    A happy team in Victoria - happy with the team performance, focused, on the ball and attuned to the boat's needs. Neil did a fabulous job navigating. Boat speed was good, maneuvers (the few we had at the start and finish) were smooth and organized. We are looking forward to leg 2!

    From back to front and left to right:
    Jeremiah, Rob, Satchel. Justin, Neil, Tanguy, Nat and Brett

    One person didn't get the memo, can you tell who that is?

    This article was originally published in forum thread: 2019 R2AK: Let The Games Begin started by Photoboy View original post