Race day 2 at the Medcup Murcia in Cartagena

3:43 AM 0 Comments

CODE RED. It all happened on the Roma today.

The race committee got us of the docks on time today. The fleet moved out of the harbor quickly and everyone got into some practice with the eager anticipation of some racing in nice fresh conditions. The first thing you notice outside the harbor area is the absolutely square waves. I can honestly say I’ve never sailed in such a peculiar wave shape and pattern. Any way we got a nice beat in and a run in maybe 18 knots. All pretty uneventful.

By the time race 1 started the breeze was up over 20 and the waves were even uglier. We won the boat end of the line and forced our friends on Puerto Calero to tack away. Not a bad way to start off. We did cover PC on the right but they had just enough separation to get bow forward on us and eventually cross us. We found ourselves mid fleet at the top mark, and really didn’t do anything spectacular to change that over the course of the race. We did start to have a bit of excitement in the breeze however. At the leeward mark my spinnaker halyard jammer failed. I managed to save the spinnaker though because I had a safety wrap over the pit winch. On the second run we blew up our A3 in a broach. Although we got an A2 up we just lost too much down the second run. We finished in 4th place which wasn’t really what we had in mind.

As I mentioned the other day, the time between races is where the full panic really gets started. This particular time between races was quite spectacular. We got pretty far away from the starting area while we were packing jibs, and spinnakers, and bailing out a huge amount of water below. We eventually found ourselves almost on a breakwater. In the hurry to start the engine, we wrapped the starboard afterguy around the prop. We had to work pretty hard with main only and eventually a tow from our rib as well to get clear of the shore. Next we went main down and tried to keep the boat stationary so that Pablo the boat captain could try to clear the prop. Prop cleared we went main back up, jib up, and bailing and packing like crazy off to the starting area.

In our blind panic to get to the start of race 2 we cooked up an incredible Vanderbilt start and absolutely nailed the boat end of the line at the gun. Puerto Calero was again forced to tack away, and we went about covering them. A quarter of the way up the beat Paolo Cian says were on fire. We all agree, going very well. No really a fire. Sure enough smoke was pouring out of the boat. Pablo went back into action to empty a few extinguishers into the engine box. Fire out. We rounded the top mark 1st and with Puerto Calero back mid fleet things were well in hand. Breeze was up to 25+ and the ride down wind was spectacular. Unfortunately we went through a few waves with the hatch open and really started to fill the boat with water. Once it starts it just gets worse and worse. We coughed up 1st place at the end of the run with a bad layline call and early drop. We have great boatspeed up wind though and pulled back into the lead. The second run was really fresh and we were really full of water. I would guess maybe water was 50mm over the floorboards. Maybe a ton of water? We were nose heavy and absolutely underwater. After 2 big pitchpoles into broaches that could only be ended by lowering the kite we decided to drop the spinnaker. From first to 4th. A disaster.

Back on the dock we licked our wounds a bit and went over the boat carefully. The fire had created a big mess and destroyed the boat computer. The water was everywhere. Maybe a ton was a pessimistic estimate. The team installed bilge pumps over the night and we limber holed the structure. Mathais the navigator worked up a new computer to replace the boat computer. The good news I guess was that the boat came through fine structurally. It is really remarkable to come through without any boat problems especially considering that we are by far the lightest of the GP42’s in terms of construction. The knowledge that the boat can take the pounding, the great upwind speed, and the bilge pump plan have us optimistic about tomorrow.

We’ll see how we go on day 3. Maybe the forecast will be a bit lighter, maybe the waves will be a bit smaller. Something more civilized maybe???

Patrick Shaughnessy