Land Ho!

What have we missed??  What possible wind speed, sail combination, and/or wind angle have we NOT seen in the past 700 miles since leaving California  four days ago in the 2011 Newport to Cabo Race?  From upwind in ghostlike zephyrs, scarcely moving a ripple on the face of the Pacific, with every stitch of canvas we can set flying, to charging along on a reach in 20 knots, peeling to the A4 to keep the wheels on the wagon, so to speak.

As I write this we are just a tick over 60 miles from Cabo.  Our fleet is pretty tight, with the SC50 Horizon leading our class, and overall.  We’ve been hammering at the fleet since paying some dues early in the race and are slowly getting back into it.  While we were happy to see the fourth place at roll call this morning, I was also surprised to see that Locomotion really found some wheels overnight and slipped in front of us (I had been optimistically hoping for a third).

But it ain’t over yet.  And with the tight grouping in our fleet and the unstable conditions we’ve been dealing with, anything remains possible!  We are gambling a bit (going to have to to get past the extremely well sailed  likes of Bad Pak and Loco), and it’s all coming down to the next five hours…  if our westerly shift comes in early enough, we can stand to make up some time, but if she’s late coming to the dance, we’ll be reaching hard to the finish…

Beyond that, life is great onboard Hula Girl.  At the moment, nearly our whole crew is on deck.  Drew is driving, mark is trimming, Bev is grinding.  Eric was just good enough to do the dishes after a superb shift driving.  Now it looks like nap time for him.  We have 16-18 knots of breeze and are scooting along at 10-12 (with spikes over 14 in the puffs).  Everyone is hanging tough, and the spectacular night sailing we have been having has blown away most of our crew.  Maneuvers and sail changes are getting better, the driving smoother.  And it shows.  We are hanging pretty close to some teams who have been sailing together for many years, and  thousands of  open ocean miles.  And we’re pretty happy to be here…  this race has been a challenge, and a hoot.  I’m not sure which has been more fun, sailing a challenging event like this against some great teams, or sailing with a group of sailors and watching them become a great team.

Anyway, I have to get going…  I’m going to go on deck and look for signs of that lefty we’re banking on.  For the moment, I’m tired, but happy, and I suspect that’s a sentiment which runs thru our whole team.  That’s not to say a couple simple things like a shower and a Margarita won’t make me happier, but for a stinky, sleep deprived, dehydrated, sun-blasted, wind-chapped, bruised and battered sailor, I’m surprisingly gratified.  And that will stand, leftie or not…

Wayne Zittel and the Hula Girl Crew

2011 Newport to Cabo Race, Day 3

Dia Diablos,

Ok, it was a devil of a day out here on the 2011 Newport to Cabo Race.
Early in the morning, the breeze died on us, as predicted.  The
remainder of the morning and mid afternoon was spent trying to squeeze
every ounce of power out of every whiff of breeze.  Sailing in this
light stuff can be a remarkable test of patience and finesse… and
our team did a great job persevering, and we’ll see how it pays off.

The breeze stabilized in the late afternoon and started a gradual
build from the south east…  not the direction we were expecting or
hoping for, but we have a couple plans on how we might turn this
development into an advantage and gain some on our fleet.
We now have about 7-8 knots of wind, and are trucking along pretty
much close-hauled at 7-8 knots.  Nice.  The Hula Girl is happy again.
And the whole crew is so relieved to have wind again, no one has even
complained that we aren’t getting the classic spinnaker runs that this
leg of the race usually delivers.

The sun just set.  Dinner has been wrapped up.   We are slipping right
along, making good progress towards Cabo.  And while we had plenty of
fun out here, I’m not too sorry to put this long day to bed…

Cheers all, and we’ll give you a position report in the morning…

Wayne Zittel & the Hula Girl Team

Armchair quarterbacking…

Hoping to get an update from on the boat, but in the meantime, we can guess a little bit…

It appears that contrary to one of the professional weather forecasts obtained by many participants at the start of the race,  including us, the wind is better offshore.  At least, it seems that once around Cedros Island, boats on the outside are making gains on boats to the inside.

Hula Girl, appears to be averaging +1 knot of boatspeed on Horizon for the last couple of hours…  That’s good!  Similarly, Sarasvati appears to be in a band of good pressure, moving along at 8 knots and beginning to compress on the fleet.

Newport to Cabo Race, Day 2

Subject: Newport to Cabo Race, Day 2
Dia Dos!

Life is good onboard the Hula Girl.  We are charging south, trying to
outrun an approaching cold front, and things are looking reasonably
good…  for now.  After a gorgeous evening with a nearly full moon
lighting up the night sky, and schools of dolphin making a mockery of
our boatspeed, dawn broke and the wind had shifted to the North a bit
lifting us, so we peeled to the A2 spinnaker.  When the wind went even
more north in the mid morning, we gybed onto the header and aimed
towards the shore.  Our weather shows that the breeze is going to get
light in the north and west of this part of the ocean, so we are
making a big effort to keep in the breeze.

In the afternoon, we  crossed tacks with the J/145 Bad Pak, just a couple of boatlengths between us!
Pretty cool for being 28 hours into the race!
We shortly gybed to run down the coast again, making sure to stay
offshore enough that we don’t get caught in the light stuff over there
too.  Yep, that’s right…  it’s looking light offshore, and light
inshore, so we are doing our best to thread the needle…  we know it
won’t last, however, and we expect the breeze to start dying on us and
shifting to the south late tonight and into tomorrow.

We just had a nice pasta dinner, and reorganized the sail stack,
making sure that the sails we expect to be needing tonight are
accessible.  It could be a bit of a hectic evening, but I think most
onboard are pretty well rested and looking forward to the challenge!
Everyone is doing an awesome job.  Bev is even studying off-watch….
now that’s commitment!

All right, that’s about all I’ve got for now.  In closing, Chris just
quoted Thor Heyerdahl (sp?) “We caught sharks with our bare hands and
generally had a fine time.”

Wayne Zittel & the Hula Girl Crew

Back in Mexico….

Date: Fri, Mar 18, 2011 at 8:33 PM
Subject: Back in Mexico….

Hola from Hula….
Well all right now.  This morning, the intrepid Team J World started
the 800 mile sprint down the West Coast from Newport Beach, CA to Cabo
San Lucas….. Land’s end, Baja California!  Our gang of nine started
about a half mile off the end of the Newport pier into a light
westerly.  With the big #1 jib up, we were able to punch out at the
start and seemed to have great boatspeed.  We climbed away from the
coast in an attempt to get to a bit more breeze offshore, and it
seemed to be working great.

Then there came a bit of a bluffing and waiting game…  all the boats
around us knew that as the wind freshened, it would shift around
behind us, and it would be time to hoist the bigger sails, and the
“Code Zero” would be the call.  We were poised and ready and wanted to
make the move with the first boat, but no earlier since we didn’t want
to separate from the pack.  Horizon, another SC50,  was the first to
go…  they got the sail most of the way up, then had a bit of a
problem, but sorted it out quickly.  By that point, we were going up
with ours too, and suddenly we has almost the same problem they had…
except we weren’t able to sort our out as easily.  The top of the
sail came unfurled during the hoist, making the sail impossible to
unfurl all the way.  We were forced to go back to the #1 jib and drop
the code zero to sort out the issue…  as we watched all the boats we
had managed to get behind us sail right by…  Before long, we got the
code zero up, dropped the jib, and set a genoa staysail.  Five or 6
knots of breeeze, sailing at 7-8 knots.  Nice.

The wind shifted farther behind us, and it was time again to change
sails…  down with the code zero, up with the 2A spinnaker.  We stuck
with that sail until about 5:30-, when the wind shifted back towards
the south a bit, and we changed to the 1A with a spinnaker staysail.
So that’s where we are right now.  True wind is about 12 knots.  We
are doing 9 to 10 knots, and we just crossed the border into Mexico.
We are picking a lane to keep us outside the light coastal breezes,
but a bit inside out competition…  it’s tough to say no to the nice
header we are getting right now, and we need to make up some of the
time we lost with the sail snafu earlier.

And we need to push south quickly.  There’s a cold front moving into
the area tomorrow, brining with is some strong headwinds.   We want to
be well down the Baja Coast before it gets here.  Andele!
We have just finished a full rotation on the helm (everyone has had a
chance to drive).  And the stew dinner wend down nicely, just as the
(nearly) full moon came up.  Man, it is beautiful outside right now.
Seriously beautiful.  The moon, the shimmering reflections on the
water, the distant coastal glow of San Diego, Tijuana, the Hula Girl
scooting along into the night.

Time to take a look at weather, then maybe go sit in the cockpit for a
while.  I’ll be in touch again soon…

All the best,

Wayne Zittel & the Hula Girl Crew
32° 27N 117° 33W

Timing is everything

Hi all,

Since we haven’t heard from anyone ON the boat yet, I thought I would chime in with a quick post.  Looks like today was the day to get away from Newport.  Wind looks to lighten tomorrow by the start, according to the forecast, but today’s starters should stay in fresh breeze in the low 20s tonight and into tomorrow, as high pressure gets pushed south.  This is based on my very quick look at the weather!

Saturday starters face, according to NOAA:

At 5PM, Hula Girl was about 25 miles S of San Diego, some 3 miles behind Horizon.  (and about 15 miles NW of Ensenada)

Most of the boats you see on the tracker – especially those in front – have done this race and races like it many times and often with the same, experienced crews.  As our participants get used to sailing a turboed boat like Hula Girl, we can hope for them to close the gap and perhaps do even better than that!


Transpac Opportunity!

So our program for the 2011 Transpac, the legendary race from LA to Hawaii every other year, has been sold out since last September…  BUT we have just had a couple cancel, so we now have two berths available on the 50 foot turbo sled, Hula Girl.  

The Transpac is arguably the world’s most famous offshore yacht race.  And one of the best.  Two-thousand miles of (mostly) downwind surfing through crystal clear waters and the warm trades.  There are already 65 entries signed up, including SIX Santa Cruz 50s…  this is going to be an epic fleet in an epic race.

J/World’s Hula Girl Reaching into Hawaii

Our Hula Girl programs set off with six crew and three of our world-class coaches.  Everyone gets an opportunity to participate in everything aboard, including navigating, trimming, and driving.  Our offshore racing programs have earned quite the reputation for being a ton of fun and tremendously beneficial…  and if you miss out on this opportunity, the next chance to get aboard won’t be until 2012.

For more about Hula Girl, visit here.  For more about the Transpac with J/World, go here.

To learn about specifics or get a copy of the Team brief, contact us!

Wayne Zittel and the J World Team


Life is good down in Mexico…  the weather is a wonderful shade of warm, the spring breezes have kicked in, and we get to go sailing all the time.  Yes indeed.  We are blessed with a fantastic venue, and this mariners from around the world know and seek this place.  Check out this bad boy who rolled into town two days ago:

That’s the 50 meter Exuma tied up right next to our J World dock.  Plumb bow, fine entry with the knuckle just above the water, a long lean hull (165 feet long with a beam just over 30!)… hmmm…. to this sailor, she has lines far more appealing than your typical (hah!) mega yacht.  And for good reason.  This Perini Navi build (not even one year old yet), sprung from a collaboration with Phillipe Briand.  You might know Briand from his mega-hits such as Mari-Cha IV, the turbo, canting-keel, schooner which crossed the Atlantic in a little over 6.5 days (average speed over 19 knots!), or his pop-sensations produced by the likes of Beneteau and Jeanneau.  So this is one fine motor yacht with a sailing pedigree…

Briand is quoted on his website:  “the primary function of a yacht is to be aesthetic.  Her owner has to be proud of her.”  Well, I dare say he’s done a fine job here.  Follow this link if you have some time to burn and want to see more of this boat…

Anyhow, we here at J World Sailing are gearing up for the Banderas Bay Clinic and Regatta this coming week….  stay tuned for all the details!

All the best,

Wayne Zittel and the J World Team