2015 Coastal Cup – Drag Race to Santa Barbara


In true Moore fashion both Snafu and Mas! arrived at the starting line for the 2015 Coastal Cup amid a flurry of loose fasteners, hastily (and partially) arranged trailer delivery plans, and one airmail exchanged Personal Locator Beacon.  The gun went off at 3pm in 20 kts of Westerly on top of a building ebb, with the race committee choosing to send the fleet an extra few miles out to Channel Marker #8 before putting on the turn signal and heading South.  Snafu chose to go with 3 crew (Mas! went double handed), which paid big dividends on the beat out to #8, to the tune of a sizeable lead for Snafu after rounding the mark and cracking off onto a reach.  After 30 minutes of parading along behind Snafu and shaking the water out of our ears, Mas! decided it was time for a kite.  The initial strategy was simply to set early and hope to get lifted up to our desired course as evening set in, however Snafu quickly followed suit, which in turn revealed the true nature of the powerful weapon that would come to be known as “El Negro”.  The 1.5 oz reaching kite built for Ronnie Simpson’s 2012 Solo Transpac run had made its way through a succession of foster homes before landing on Mas!, and the kite provided to be a great choice for both close reaching and the heavy air running conditions that we saw later that night and throughout the following day.  As the evening wore on we were able to sail higher and faster with El Negro, which positioned us to catch the stronger offshore breeze forecast for that night.

The sun set with the breeze building to the low and mid-20s, and a few lonely masthead running lights marking a quickening path south.  Our forecast showed breeze in the mid to high 20s 10+ miles offshore, with stronger pressure building inshore as the evening progressed.  As Mas! was positioned outside, and actually seeing winds ranging from 25-32kts, we decided we had all we (but not El Negro) could handle, and choose to ignore Expedition which kept encouraging us to head inshore in search of even more pressure (and I’m sure secretly hoping to induce us into a slobberknocker gybe in pitch black).  We did notice Snafu’s running lights turn from red to green, we thought indicating a gybe inshore, and worried about them finding a passing lane, but ultimately we decided to maintain strategy and keep offshore.  Both Ian and I caught several cat naps during the night, finally figuring out that placing your head in the sheet bag and feet behind the mainsheet pod provided the most comfort and best possibility of providing some assistance in the event of a wipe out.

Morning came, and with it the wind briefly fell to the mid-teens before building again into the mid- and high-20s.  At this point the waves also built and shortened, and delivered some of the best surfing of the trip.  Mas! with El Negro leading the way, would hit the top of a wave, catch the full brunt of the wind, and go over the falls into the trough in front of us.  The best strategy was to try to find a path that minimized burying into the next wave as doing so would slow the boat down, shift the apparent wind dramatically up and aft, and bring us closer to the broaching point.  The second day passed in spirited running conditions, which normally would be a warning for a potentially scary rounding of Pt Conception which serves as a pinch point for both wind and waves running down the CA coast.  On this day however, a high was forming over Pt Conception, meaning it would be a race to get around Conception before the breeze shut off.  Mas! and Snafu (who we couldn’t see, but later learned from the YellowBrock Tracker was right behind us) both choose to round Conception wide, which Mas! taking a gradual turn East, while Snafu chose a more angular hard left strategy.  At this point the sun was setting, and the forecast lead us to expect the breeze would drop, but no, it actually built again into the mid-20s, and the full moon popped out, leading to a beautiful and windy run down the Santa Barbara channel towards the finish line.  Going into the channel our strategy was to stay South in the channel, however somewhere Van Halen was cranked up to full volume and El Negro and Mas! sensed the finish line, so strategy went out the window in favor of a full tilt broad reach straight at the finish line from 35 miles out….

….and then…4 miles from the finish with the sun rising, the wind died…and we pulled out the iPad and saw on Yellow Brick that Snafu had cut behind us and was making progress inshore towards the finish…and a 17 mile lead became a 12 mile lead….which became a 10 mile lead…you get the point.  Between 6am and 9amwe tried every trick we could think of. We took El Negro down and set the class kite, we took the class kite down and set the 0.5 oz, we took the 0.5 oz down and set the #3.  The took the #3 down and slatted under main only.  We tried bribing the wind gods with sacrifices of blood, food and water.  We cursed the wind gods to their faces.  We radioed into Race Committee and appealed to them to shorten course.  At separate times both of us burst into tears and renounced sail boat racing of any form.  And then the morning breeze filled in and we were able to get inshore and ghost down the last mile to finish at 10:30am.  Behind us we could see Snafu running down the channel, and they were to finish just shy of noon.  By the time we reached the dock we had wiped our noses and forgotten about the morning madness, and the Race Committee greeted us with donuts and champagne.  The Moore 24 contingent quickly found their way to the bar and a warm meal on the Santa Barbara YC deck, where Snafu’s weekend story was just reaching its halfway mark.

The final tally for Coastal Cup 2015 was 1st and 2nd for Mas! and Snafu on corrected time in class and fleet.  As proof that the winds gods responded to our sacrifices, threats, pleading and despair, the big boats which started a day later ran smack into no wind off Conception, and Mas! also took home fastest elapsed time honors.  Best of all we got to round Conception to Port both ways, and were home by late afternoonSunday.  We cannot recommend highly enough both the race course and the hospitality of Encinal and Santa Barbara YCs.  The mighty Moore 24s reveled in the offshore Central Coast conditions and we’ll be back.









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