The forecast for this year’s Spinnaker Cup from San Francisco to Monterey was for 7 to 10 out of the west.
The crew on James Bradford’s Farr 40 Bright Hour in good spirits as they sail away from the sunset.
A couple dozen boats and their crews played hooky on Friday for the 18th annual Spinnaker Cup race to Monterey, hosted by the San Francisco and Monterey Peninsula Yacht Clubs. With light winds forecast out of the west, it wasn’t looking like the typical white-knuckle ride down the coast.
The big boats were under the Gate first, with Frank Slootman's Custom R/P 63 Invisible Hand leading the way. A boat that really could have been in a class by itself—the Hand owed the next fastest boat in the race 90 seconds per mile—was able to make it’s own weather system and finished 13 minutes off the course record on what was a very light air race.
For the rest of the fleet, it was a pleasant but tactically challenging race. The forecast was correct; it was light with the wind predominantly from the west. After a small front passed over early in the race, the wind clocked around to the north, into the 300s, making for a very unusual port gybe race.
“The traditional race is, you gybe in at the lighthouse at Pigeon Point, hit a couple shifts, you get around Montero, and the wind pipes up down in Monterey Bay,” said Quantum’s Will Paxton, who was sailing on Bright Hour, a Quantum-powered Farr 40 owned by James Bradford.
“We decided it looked bad in there—the boats that had gone in just weren’t moving, so we decided to stay out. The other Farr 40 Astra stayed out even further and they brought pressure in with them and made a huge gain on us.” Bright Hour finished second in Class D.
Steve Stroub’s Santa Cruz 37 Tiburon with an all-Quantum inventory placed third in Class E. “I’d say we’re somewhat satisfied. We were hoping for a little more wind because my boat does better when the breeze is up and we can start surfing. We didn’t quite see that. It was a light year,” said Stroub. Tiburon’s game plan was fairly typical: stay clear on Montero, and then come in toward Davenport, and cut across fairly close to Monterey, hopefully finishing before the easterly.
They sailed with the jib out of the gate, and then peeled to the jib top—a 1980s sail recently recut by Quantum that Stroub acquired for last year’s Pacific Cup. They then peeled to the A7, and then went to the A2. “I think we had a good game plan and we pretty much stuck to it, but we just didn’t have enough wind to surf,” Stroub added.
Co-owners of the Express 27 Tequila Mockingbird Dan McGraw (driving) and Matt Krogstad (trimming). Photo by bowman Jonas Kellner.
Co-owners Matt Krogstad and Dan McGraw had planned to double hand their Express 27 Tequila Mockingbird, but so few boats were entered in the double handed division that they decided to add their regular bowman Jonas Kellner and sail in the full-crewed fleet. “We weren’t only three, we were a pretty light three. After we got through the upwind portion of the race there was a lot sailing deep off the wind, light air, so being light helped,” said McGraw.
They stayed pretty well in and sailed the rum line down the coast. “We thought it would be more northerly and more pressure out further out, but we thought it was just too far to go,” said Krogstad.
While their class sails are made by Quantum, McGraw and Krogstad picked up a used masthead kite as a sort of experiment. “This was our first race running the mast head kite, we didn’t really know what to expect out of it,” Krogstad. “There was another E27 in our fleet that was running normal class kite, so it was great to compare their performance with ours. We took a three second per mile penalty to fly that kite but it seems to have paid.”
The two owners say the experiment was a success, but they weren’t completely satisfied with the performance of the used kite. “We may try to acquire a Quantum masthead kite before long,” added McGraw.
Tequila Mockingbird finished around 3:06 in the morning, correcting out to second in class behind Jack Peurach’s Express 37 Elan. “There was a lot of south-westerly early in the race, and that really helped the longer waterline, heavier boats to get ahead,” said McGraw.
Click here for full results.
Jenn Virškus for Quantum Sails.