Ok, you know it is a good regatta when there is just way too much going on to get my daily reports in!  Man, between the beautiful sailing conditions, the competitive fleet racing, and the fully hosted dinner/party tent each night, we had our hands full!

Team J World aboard our Hula Girl charging the weather mark.

There was a pursuit race.  There were two days of windward-leewards.  There were two distance races.  There was a Gold Cup race.  There was a hosted dinner on a remote beach.  There were dinners every night.  And there was a closing ceremony dinner outside, on the point, which was a blowout that I won’t even begin to attempt describing.  You just have to come see it for yourself.

Katana downwind, Hula Girl upwind.

We had a new crew aboard Hula Girl, and in an event like this, wow we had our hands full!  We swapped drivers.  We moved trimmers to the bow and grinders to the trim.  We shuffled things up continually so all of our clients got a feel for big boat racing in a truly grand-prix event.  I was really impressed with how all of our team rose to the challenges.  Many of them had never sailed a boat like this at all, to say nothing of jumping right into a competitive fleet like we had at MEXORC!  Despite all the trials and tribulations, I thought we posted some pretty good finishes…  too bad we couldn’t seem to sail to out rating.  We were the second slowest rating boat in our class and had to fight through a lot of dirty air all week, but we just couldn’t seem to correct out over some of the bigger/faster boats.

On the pursuit race…  we seem to be catching a lot of the small boats…  a good sign… 

But no worries.  It was a fantastic week, and everyone learned a ton.  MEXORC in Banderas Bay.  It doesn’t really get any better than this.

Pre-start maneuvers.

That’s what I got.  Sorry it’s late.  Thanks team for a great event!  And if you are interested in joining J World’s Hula Girl for some racing, the next event we have room in is the 2013 Newport to Cabo Race

Wayne Zittel and the J World Team

SD to PV Race Video

So.  Been swamped since getting into Puerto Vallarta after the 2012 San Diego to PV Race.  Two days after finishing, we had to have Hula Girl in buoy racing mode and setup for practice with an all new crew of sailors for MEXORC.

But somehow I managed to get a little video of the race down put together.  Many thanks to the whole team, and to Drew for making it all happen!


Seriously.  I don’t get it.  For the life of me, I can’t fathom why this isn’t the most popular regatta in the world.  I absolutely love MEXORC!
Today was Day 1 of the 2012 MEXORC regatta in Banderas Bay.  The fine city of Puerto Vallarta is nestled into the southeastern corner of this glorious bay, but we were sailing our of Marina Riviera Nayarit in the fantastic town of La Cruz, which is just north of our J World Base in Nuevo Vallarta.
The Beautiful (and always well-sailed) Peligroso and  Alchemy
For this event, we have a half dozen J World coaches and seven clients from the US and Canada aboard.  Our team is comprised of sailors who regularly sail boats ranging from 14 to 40 feet.  Almost all of them are J World alumni, and we are thrilled to have them all aboard.
Ok, back to the event.  Perfectly warm weather.  Not a long sleeve in sight (unless it’s for sun protection).  Great breeze.  Spectacular scenery.  A phenomenal fleet.   We hit the water toady for the Governor’s Cup race, and after a brief warm up were informed that the President of Mexico had arrived on the Race Committee boat and was going to address the fleet (as he did at the 2010 event).  Yes, that’s right the PRESIDENT of MEXICO!  Now that’s what I call supporting the sport of sailing!
Setting Up For The Start of Race One
Well, if El Presidente put all his political clout to bear, he couldn’t have ordered up better sailing.  We had a reverse start, with the slower classes starting first, for a long tour of the Bay.  On board Hula Girl,  we got a glean start, charged the weather mark, had a great first reach, negotiated the light air at the close-to-the-beach second mark, took off on a great long reach across the bay, performed an excellent peel form the 2A to the 3A (the very first for many of our team!), and got to the line nice and smoothly.  While we are almost the slowest boat in our Class B, we thought we kept close enough to the leaders to have a respectable finish.
Then it was back to the dock, and off to the party tent.  Dinner and drinks are served with style to all the racers, and daily awards were give out.  While we were a bit disappointed with our 5thplace corrected finish, the great atmosphere of the regatta eased the pain.  And the knowledge that we have 5 more glorious days of sailing here certainly gave us a lot to look forward to!
That’s what I got…  for today.  Tomorrow is W/L racing, and will be a huge test for our ‘young’ team.   But win, lose, or draw, I have little doubt that we will have a blast!
That’s all I’ve got for today.  More tomorrow…
All the best,
Wayne Zittel and the J World Hula Girl Team

PV Race Pictures…

Well, we have put to bed the 2012 San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race.  It was a tale of two extremes…  the initial winds run with great surfing and wild rides, then a couple of days of calm, drifting as a painted ship on a painted sea.  But more than any of that, it was an adventure of a great crew.

A special thank you goes out to Drew for pulling this group together…  Joel, Rick, Mark, Lee, it was great sailing with each and every one of you.  These offshore races can be challenging on both physical and mental levels.  As individuals and as a team, you all not only overcame any hurdles thrown in our way, but seemed to thrive on any challenges (strong breeze, or a lack thereof and a test of patience).  And a huge thank you to coaches/watch captains Josh and Rob for their efforts at both getting the boat down the course quickly and making sure everyone aboard had a fun and beneficial experience!

Now were are setting up for MEXORC…  we’ll keep posting updates as we can!

Best Regards,

Wayne Zittel and the J World Hula Girl Team

Leaving San Diego Bay and Point Loma
The Windy Run – Hula Girl loves this stuff!
Rick with a steady hand on the helm in some serious surfing conditions…
We cranked up some pretty good speeds on the first two days…  consistent 15s, numerous +20’s…
Rob Driving.  Joel Trimming.  Hula Girl Surfing.
Lee (aka Disco Queen) hamming it up….
Great Joel…  we give you the wheel, and you break the wind…
The Calm Continued….
Lee makes friends with our company.  Once they bonded, it was unlikely we would be getting any Sushi.
This Yellowtail followed us for miles…  well, ok, maybe not miles since we were hardly moving, but probably 6 hours…
Good time for showers and a quick swim in the light stuff.  Lee cooling off…  friend still behind us.
Hula Girl loving life again…  back in the breeze.  Code 0 and staysail.
Skinny boat, fun sailing….
Final run to the finish in perfect conditions.  Now this is what I’m talking about.  Later, the full moon rose directly in front of us, and we glided to a 2am finish off Punta Mita.

San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Report – J World’s Hula Girl – Evil Monday….

Evil Monday….

We didn’t just park it. We valet parked it, lost the stub, the valet lost the keys, got fired, and went home early. By the time we got our ride back, it was looking pretty ugly.

Monday was unkind to us aboard Hula Girl in the Sand Diego to PV Race. Hula Girls goin’ ’round the outside (for a variety of reasons explained earlier) got punished. We kind of expected everyone to be sitting in the light patchy stuff, slatting for a while, then catching a puff for an hour or two, then slatting for a couple hours all over again. It looked to us like the whole are was to be plagued with these unstable conditions. But, apparently, we were quite wrong. Blue Blazes put some 40+ more miles on us, as did Ocelot. And we only put 12 on Miramar?!? And that doesn’t even touch on the beating the big boats gave to us. The reports from other boats were for nice 8-9 knots conditions…. while we were having a hard time keeping our bow pointed towards PV due to a lack of steerage.

This is precisely what makes Mexico races sooo challenging (and fun). We went from scary fast rides to a swim in a pond. We used almost every sail we brought along. We went form third, to fourth, to second, to fifth,.,… and it still ain’t over yet!

As our buddy Mike put it: If you can’t be with the wind you love, love the wind you’re with.

We finally got into the prevailing breeze just a couple hours ago and are finally in 12 knots of breeze, just peeled from the 1A to the 2A a bit ago, making good tracks towards Puerto Vallarta. Roll call will be interesting in the morning, if only to see if anyone else found any of the killer holes, or if we were solo in our miseries!

BUT there is this too: I just sat in the cockpit for an hour with, at various points, Rob and Lee and Drew and Mark and Josh. It is absolutely fantastic right now. The moon is high,. The boat is hissing along,. The seas are flat. The weather is warm. Midnight right now (2am local time, actually, in the Sea of Cortez, in shorts and T-shirts and diggin’ it.

Ok. Going to crash now. Unless the wind goes right as forecasted, we’ll have to gybe south of the Marias (the prison islands) to give them the required clearance. I suppose sitting in a Mexican prison would make sitting in a wind hole look like a vacation at the Four Seasons. I think we’ll skip that, and get to the Margaritas waiting in PV…

See you all in the morning…

Wayne Zittel and the Hula Girl Team…

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SD to PV Race Report – Hula Girl – Nowhere Slow

My head hurts. This stuff is grueling.

It’s a drifter out here as we dig into day five of the PV Race. By our math, we did something in the neighborhood of 92 miles from 7am to 7am yesterday… by race committee math and distance down the course figuring, it was shy of that by a dozen or so. Either way you slice it, it was a slow day. And today is no different… worse, in fact, if the first 12 hours is any indication. We’ve been upwind and downwind on both port and starboard tack. Every puff brings a sail change, then hope (for persistence), then disappointment. Kids, it;s a primer for life! But we know that there is an end to this, and it’s all gonna be all right… the wind will blow again!

I think we are still sitting ok. Good shot at second, and in this stuff, no lead is safe, so we’ll keep chomping at the J/125 Timeshaver. Looks like they jibed/tacked/drifted/teleported (whatever the fluky conditions would permit) south with us to defend their substantial lead… Blue Blazes caught a bit in terms of straightline distance, but we have still been working south when the opportunity presents itself, so I think we sacrificed mileage for positioning and I’m ok with that. Not sure what happened to Ocelot… they have dropped back, while Miramar has actually scooted up… with all the time we all owe them, they will benefit with the light stuff in this time-on-time scoring (as will the J125)… when we are all stopped, they are both kicking our butts!

In the meantime: house (boat) cleaning, drying out, repacking sails, showers, and general reorganization. Lots of sea turtles. Sea lions. Some small dolphins, bored with us ’cause we are poking along so slowly. The little red crabs came back for a bit. And one friendly big yellowfin who followed our rudder all morning. Got right up next to it with the waterproof camera Were there wasabi aboard, that fish wouldn’t have stood a chance, but in the spirit of oneness with our environment (Grasshopper), we simply admired it and welcomed it’s company, and aquatic Albatross, we hope. Plus, would have been tough to filet with a rigging knife. And as Joel was saying today, all this stuff we would have missed had we come flying thru here at 10, 15, 20 knots, so there is a positive side to this light stuff, this slowing-down-and-smelling-the-roses thing….

But enough already. We want the breeze back. It would have been a looonnnggg day, but for the company aboard. Seriously having a great time with this crew. It hurts from laughing so much. That’s one of the fun things about doing so many events with new crews… getting to meet and get to know all kinds of sailors from all over. This team is mostly from San Diego, my home town, so it’s been particularly fun.

Almost 8pm now. A couple hours ago it shifted to the NW and started to fill ever so slightly… 4,5, occasional 6 now… but the really good news is that this, finally, is the prevailing direction and we hope it will stabilize now. We’re not supposed to see much build over the next couple days, but slow and steady is a far cry better than what we’ve been doing.

That’s all I got, for now… have a good watch, and see you in the a.m.

Wayne Zittel and the Hula Girl Team

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San Diego to Puerto Vallara Race – Feast Turns to Famine…

Feast or famine indeed.

This morning, as expected, the breeze for us out here in the 2012 San Diego to Puerto Vallarta race began to die. It was a prolonged, slow death, which gave us time to go from the jib top, to the code 0, to the 2A, to the 1A, and in the early evening, to the ultimate in agony, to slatting mode. We expect it’s the same inshore. At the morning roll call, the boats along the beach were reporting 4-5 knots while we still carried 8-10… so hopefully we have had a bit more out here than on the inside. And now our breeze has shifted around to the West (5 knots from 270 at the moment) and filled a touch and we are scooting along on perfectly flat seas doing some 1.4 times windspeed straight at Puerto Vallarta, 400 miles to go.

Thanks again MIke for yet another addition to the soundtrack for this race: If you can’t be with the wind you love, love the wind you’re with. At this point, we love any wind.

As far as standings, who knows what’s going to happen. The big boats are going to hit a wall (but honestly I haven;t been looking too closely at their weather, since what’s going on locally has been keeping me busy). The J/125 is sitting pretty in first. We were actually second in class, second overall at roll call, but Ocelot didn’t check in and I suspect they have been rumbling. We were pretty much boat-for-boat with Blue Blazes in terms of distance to finish and they are well inside us so that will provide a good benchmark for what is working at tomorrow morning’s roll call.

Not much else to report…. a long day with lots of concentration from the team. Weird little red crabs all around the boat. Yours truly took a dive off the bow to snatch a piece of stubborn kelp form the keel as she skid by at a not very intimidating 1 knot. A care package sent along from Barrett ion San Diego scheduled for opening today at 5 pm couldn’t have been better timed. We were essentially parked and were able to enjoy the sunset right about then. But, I was shocked to find contraband in there, which I of course immediately attempted to confiscate for the the good of the crew, but was outnumbered, so the gang got their grog. And we drifted into a beautiful evening, Really nice out here, quiet like no place else on earth. You find yourself talking in whispers. And when the water stars slipping by the hull and you hear the winches starting to click-click, it’s music to a sailor’s ears and our own little symphony of sorts.

But now the breeze is back: so iPod and Ramones, here we come… got to keep this ride moving!

All the best, and we’ll see you at the 11pm weather fax broadcast, or roll call in the morning….

Wayne Zittel and the Hula Girl Team

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SD to PV Race – Day three begins…

So this isn’t normal. But, then, what is in a Mexico Race? The typical experience is to expect the atypical.

We are now about 5 hours into Day 3 of the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race. Not more than 10 minutes after I posted last night’s midnight report, the breeze veered right about 15 degrees, and to keep from sailing even farther outside, we dropped the 4A spinnaker and went with the Jib Top. Well, almost. A snafu ripped the top two feet of luff tape out of the sail, so we went with the #3 instead. We power reached thru the night in 20-25 from the NNE. In the morning, we got the repaired JT up, added a staysail for good measure, and rolled along.

You know those morning roll calls where you just know the news ain’t going to look to great? Where you are sure you have taken lumps (deserved or otherwise) and now all your pain will be revealed? But somehow, miraculously, when the roll call happens, you are relieved and thrilled to find out that all is actually ok? Well, this wasn’t one of those. Looks like Ocelot is launched, and the J/125 is not far behind. It was their weather, that breeze those waves… Blue Blazes didn’t check in, and Serena is apparently out of the race (we don’t know why). As expected, with our outside route, our miles to go looks a lot worse…

As Mike put it: Buffalo Girls go round the outside, round the outside… So what will the Hula Girl do?

We’ve pretty much hung our shingle out here, so we’ll see what happens. It’s supposed to get really funky and really light here pretty soon, and for a good while. If Ocelot and Timeshaver hit the beach (which it looks like they are) they might be able to play the shore breeze and drift along … or, they might get parked. We could find the breeze we need to make it around out here in the deepwater, or we may get skunked on the shore breeze. We have out theories, and our hopes, so we’ll see what happens. Not content to reach up behind them and fall into place in a reaching race, that’s for sure. Where would the fun be in that?

Behind us, it looks like our class did more miles the first day out than any of the big boats, so it’s clearly softer breeze back there. That helps us overall for the time being, but… well, you know, our turn is coming….

So the breeze lightened and backed in the afternoon. It’s sunset right now, and we are seeing about 14 from the north. A couple hours ago we changed to the Code 0 and staysail combo and are now trucking along nicely in that configuration. Expected to drop even more tonight…by morning we are supposed to be in the 6 knot range. Ouch.

But we are having a fantastic time out here. Everyone on the team is solid, enthusiastic, and a lot of fun to sail with… in fact, everyone is out in the cockpit watching sunset, and dinner is almost ready, so I am signing off for the time being. All the best to everyone shoreside…

Wayne Zittel and the Hula Girl Team

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San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race – 36 hours in…

Well all right now.
It’s middle of the night here off Baja. All the sensible people are at home in bed. But us head cases, well, we are now some 36 hours into the San Diego to Puerto Vallarta Race. We still have breeze and are still trucking along. It’s pretty spectacular out here tonight.
So we are now on port gybe with the breeze NNE. In the last hour or two we’ve seen a big right shift, almost 20 degrees… to think we could be beam (or close) reaching along the lower bight of a day or two. Interesting times… but I am getting ahead of myself.
Nice day. Really nice day. occasional punches past the 20 knot barrier. Not frequent, but also not rare. The 4A is still up. Been up all day with a brief drop to back down and clear something unruly off the rudder, which turns out to have been nothing at all. It seems that, after charging the batteries this morning, in an honest mistake, one of our gang thought the engine was off when they put it in reverse. Going 15 knots. Ouch. The engine shook and shimmied and otherwise objected. And in the process we broke a shifter cable to the motor right off the binnacle and apparently jammed the prop open (or one blade or???). Who knows, but it was causing the turbulence that felt like rudder drag. We let the prop freewheel for a second, popped it into gear (had to shift down at the transmission), and got her sweet and smooth again. And that was the excitement for the day.
Actually, that was the intermission. The excitement was the sailing. Man, this is some fun boat. Long and lean, she really gets going. The strut/bulb ‘T’ keel really feel great at speed… low drag and the Girl doesn’t want to trip over it on the big surfs. You hang that bulb off to the side as the boat heels when you head up slightly to catch the wave, and you feel it’s weight lever against the rig, against the sailpaln. If you can resist the temptation to crank the rudder over to turn down the wave (effectively killing your speed and hope of catching it), if you can just have confidence in the boat, you can feel the weight out there stand the boat upright, turn her down the face of the wave, and in an instant, you are off to the races…
We’ve hung it out here to the right side of the course…. partially due to intent, partially due to sail choices made early to help keep the wheels on the wagon for a crew who are mostly unfamiliar with the boat. But I’m ok with it. It’s going to go soft,,, we could spend a couple of days in winds close to 5 knots and we are hoping that we 1) might have a better shot at maintaining some breeze and 2) get a better reaching angle in the light stuff. So we are rolling the dice, but when playing against boats as well sailed at Ocelot and Blue Blazes, we have to take our calculated risks.
Now the crew slumbers. Wind 20 knots, plus or minus 2 (although here at the nav table I just looked up and saw a 26 knot puff) from about 010 magnetic. The moon just rose off to starboard. As it gets a bit higher, it’s going to make the ride even more fun… you forget how fast you are going when it’s really dark, but when the light plays off the waves, well, you are ripping across a lunar surface. That all I got for now. Going to grab something warm to drink and get into the cockpit as this nav table is killing the sailor in me. Well, right after I look at the latest weather report… that’s the competitor kicking in…
Cheers all, have a good night and we’ll see you in the morning…
Wayne Zittel and Team Hula Girl
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