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 AYC Birthday Regatta Race Report
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1st Mate

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Initially Posted - 04/16/2020 :  15:11:32  Show Profile  Visit SailTowery's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Since we are all patiently waiting to get our racing seasons started, I thought I would share a report from our road trip from Ogden, UT to Lake Pleasant, AZ last February 5-9.

I love travelling with my Capri 25. 3 years ago we took her to Flathead Lake, MT for the Montana Cup. We had only raced the boat 2 or 3 times before going and we got our asses handed to us by the well prepared J/24's and my sailmaker's Moore 24. We did beat the other Capri 25 in the fleet but still finished 7th out of 8 boats.

With 3 years of tweaks, practice, a complete refit, new sails and rigging, a bottom job and local race wins, we felt we were ready to travel again. We picked the Arizona Yacht Club's Birthday Regatta because of it's mid-winter schedule and because I know some folks down there and had some connections. There is also a decent fleet of older fiberglass racing boats that rate within a reasonable band to the Capri 25.

The drive was long, but manageable. We planned for 2 days of driving in case of bad weather or other issues but we made it in one day...14 hrs. I tow the boat with a 2012 Toyota Tacoma Long Bed. It does just fine but has a small gas tank, so we had to stop often to fill up. We stayed at a friend's house the night of the 5th and headed to the lake the morning of the 6th.

Lake Pleasant is about 45 mins NE of PHX Sky Harbor, near the town of Peoria. It is a man made reservoir in an amazing piece of desert. Blue water surrounded by saguaro cactus makes for a beautiful place to sail.

We spent Thursday the 6th rigging and launching the boat. I had to split to get one of my crew from the airport and grab the rental RV we stayed in at the lake for the week. That night we had some beer and hot tub time.

Friday was an official practice race day set up by regatta organizers. We participated in the first race, then set out on our own for a few hours to practice then re-joined the fleet for the final practice race. No clue how we finished in the practice races. Once at the dock, we talked to our competitors and prepped the boat for the next day.

Friday night we headed to the marina bar and grill and ran into old friends and met new ones. We ate chicken wings and drank like we were at Key West Race Week in 1999 as twenty-somethings. Not the best idea for the next morning but we're at a regatta!

Saturday morning came early with an 8 am boat call for a 9 am warning signal. To say we were hungover is an understatement. Some granola and coffee got us out the RV door.

Race day came with a lot of excitement and chilly weather. Arizona was experiencing a cold snap. Our class was named PHRF-Spin We had 11 boats rating 195-96... 2 Olson 30's, Hobie 33, J/29, Olson 25, Impulse 26, J/24, Santana 23D, Martin 242, Merit 22 and us. We rated even with the J/24 and Santana 23 at 174 and the Olson 25 was close at 169.

The race courses were relatively short, which favored us smaller boats. The 30 footers had to work to get out in front enough to win. The course of choice for weekend was a one lap W/L, a mile or 2 long.

Race 1 was a blast. We came across the line 3rd and corrected for the win! Nice way to start a regatta! We nailed the start and had perfect mark roundings. I think we raised eyebrows with our Capri 25. We were faster than we've ever been.

Race 2 turned into a drifter. The Hobie 33 was the only boat to finish in the time limit. The rest of us got finishers + 1, so 2nd place for everyone. The Impulse 26 sailed the wrong course and DSQ'd.

Races 3 and 4 were in moderate breeze and we finished 2nd and 3rd respectively to end the day in 1st.

Saturday night was the regatta dinner and a fun presentation by renowned sailing photographer Onne van der Wal. We had an early bedtime and slept like logs.

Sunday morning was another chilly one with fresh breeze. We motored out to the race course, had a practice spin set and jibe and we were ready. Race 1 was breezy and we picked the lifted tack and sailed fast. We ended up winning the race... boat for boat beating everyone over the line for the bullet! We were ecstatic! It was a definitive win. High fives and cheers all around. But we had to keep our cool. 3 more races to go and the regatta was ours to lose.

Race 2 turned into another drifter. We were dead last at one point. But got some breeze and passed all but 3 boats. We corrected 4th however. That ended up being our worst result and was our throw out as we got 3rd in the next race and finished the regatta by winning the final race!

We wrapped up the weekend with awards, sent 2 guys to the airport and me and another crew packed up the boat. We made it to Kingman that night and finished the drive on Monday the 10th, even taking a few minutes to drive Little Wing over Hoover Dam.

Some of the key takeaways from the regatta:

-Boat prep is key. We had a very competitive fleet. 7 of the 11 boats had podium finishes and 4 different boats won a race. Races were won or lost within seconds of corrected time. The biggest effort of the previous months was in the bottom job. I faired and sanded and then sanded some more. We have refined the rigging and deck layout over 3 years and perfected our maneuvers. We take very good care of our racing sails so we get good life out them. We also stripped the boat of ANYTHING not required by law or PHRF. We took probably 100 lbs of excess junk off the boat for race days.

-Crew work matters. My crew for the weekend consisted of my regular guy on the bow, my sailmaker and friend of 20 years trimming and a fellow Utah competitor in the pit calling tactics. I drove and trimmed the main. We practiced. We improved. We debriefed each race. Each crew member knew their role and if something needed to be changed, we changed it.

-Fun has to be the #1 priority. Yes, traveling so far made us want to do well. My goals for the regatta were to win a race, not embarrass ourselves and to have fun. We accomplished all of those things. I made sure to tell my crew the minute we stop having fun, we need to reassess. We never once had to do that. We trusted each other. We allowed each other to mess up. We laughed things off.

-Capri 25's have plenty of potential. Our boats are old, but that doesn't mean they have to be slow. It will take some work to get the most out of our wonderful 25's but it's possible.

I've been racing sailboats for 35 years. I have raced to Hawaii. I've been in several NOOD Regattas. I raced Key West Race Week. I was a regular crew in Etchells, J/105's and 50 footers. But this was hands down the best regatta I have ever sailed in. Winning was icing on the cake.

You can check out pics from the regatta on the Facebook page link in my signature.

Little Wing
Hull #422

Edited by - SailTowery on 04/17/2020 08:25:47

Steve Milby
Past Commodore

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Response Posted - 04/18/2020 :  16:52:52  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Good read! Thanks for posting it.

Steve Milby C&C 35 Landfall ("Captiva Wind"); Cal 25 ("Fahrvergnügen")
Past Commodore
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Response Posted - 04/19/2020 :  05:25:07  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Great write up Ben, thanks.

Tom Curran
1981 Capri 25 Hull #101 "Dirty Debbie"
1985 Watkins 25 "Comfortably Numb"
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