Archive for the Category »Racing «

The Volvo Ocean Race – Miami

While a lot of life has recently been about preparing to welcome our first little sailor, we did get a unique opportunity at the end of May to visit the only U.S. port of the Volvo Ocean Race in Miami.  

Considered the Everest of sailing, the VOR is an intense 39,000 nautical mile, 9-month around the world sailing race with 10 port stopovers. And, the timing worked out ideally as we had already planned to be at a family reunion on the East Coast a week after the race events so we decided to make a “visit-as-many-friends-along-the-way-to-the-race/reunion” road trip of it.

With a goal of being in Miami for the in-port race and start of the next offshore leg to Lisbon, Portugal, we packed up the car and drove the 1300 miles to Ft. Lauderdale. We had two overnight stops on our route there and overall it was a relatively easy ride for the then 7-month pregnant admiral.

Once there, we connected with part of our cruising family, Ted and Mili of s/v Morning Glory, and made weekend plans that revolved around catching up and being at the center the race. First stop was the Race Village in Bicentennial Park, Downtown Miami. As we drove near, even with the multi-story America Airlines Arena clouding our view, we could see the tops of the 103 foot masts piercing the sky (for context, Kaleo’s mast was a mere 43 feet in comparison).

Masts piercing the sky

Walking up to see the six 70-foot long thoroughbreds of ocean racing was electrifying, at least for us sailors. These boats are made of advanced carbon and Kevlar skins, with canting keels (the fin on the bottom of the boat pivots laterally) and can often sail faster than the wind speed. And they are all equipped with exquisite paint jobs to match their prestige.

Naturally, we’re cheering for Puma, the American team in the race. And after having spent months watching Mar Mostro (the name of Puma’s boat) claw her way around the world via the Internet, we were elated to see her in person. There she was, tugging at her lines waiting to pounce back on the water, sporting signature black sails with the Puma logo jumping up as if from the ocean itself.

The bow of Mar Mostro bridled to the dock

Then, as if the day couldn’t get any better, none other than Ken Read, a legendary sailing champion and the skipper of Mar Mostro, came strolling up the gangplank. It was all hands on deck as we grabbed the camera and scurried over to meet him. The picture hardly shows it but Matt was practically speechless.

Up close and personal with Ken Read

Ted chatted up a security guard and soon enough we found ourselves down on the dock right within arms distance of the race boats. Matt and Ted talked with Rome Kirby, the youngest guy on the Puma team (and in the VOR) at 22. When asked how he got on board with the Volvo Race he replied, “gotta start small and win all the dinghy races.” Hmm, something for Matt to work toward.

Chatting with Rome

After admiring the perfectly crafted lines of Mar Mostro’s hull and drooling over sailing equipment that alone is worth more than most boats, we sauntered around the rest of the village. Highlights included the 3D theater, the grinding competition (Matt completed it in 11.3 seconds, Volvo sailors do it in 9 flat), and seeing Iker Martinez, the skipper of a rival team, Telefonica.

Grind faster!!

With our fill of the village it was off to Morning Glory where we spent a gorgeous night anchored out under the glow of the Miami skyline. Swimming, dinghy rides, grilling and the gentle roll of being at anchor brought a flood of wonderful cruising memories back. To really make it more like cruising, we wrapped the night up with great friends and our traditional game of Mexican Train. After a leisurely breakfast the next morning, we raised the anchor and headed past South Beach and off-shore to the race course. We knew it was the right direction as we followed the VOR boats out, all in a stately line as if they were horses parading before the queen’s court.

Headed out to the course aboard Morning Glory

What started as a beautifully calm day, quickly turned tempestuous as a rollicking wind brought in storms. With waves crashing over the bows of Morning Glory, we spent the next few hours tracking around the race course as the VOR boats came ripping by, sometimes as fast as 20 knots. Again, for context, Kaleo sailed at an average of 5 to 6 knots. And after quite a few lead changes and a hard fought race, Puma came steaming by Camper in the last seconds of the race to take 3rd. Not the first place we were hoping for, but with a 39,000 mile race, it’s how you do in the long haul that truly matters.

Rounding the mark just behind Telefonica

The weather cleared as we returned to port with anticipation of the next day’s race, the start of the next offshore leg. After church on Sunday, the guys took Ted’s powerboat out to chase the racers into the Gulf Stream and given the limited amount of shade on board, the gals elected to relax by the pool.

In conditions opposite the previous day, virtually zero wind and a flat ocean, the guys zipped and zoomed around the course, at times within throwing distance of the race boats. The highlight of the day was following Puma out to sea as Read pointed the bow towards Lisbon, Portugal. They followed Mar Mostro out for about an hour waving them off with a holler as they crossed into the Gulf Stream to eventually take another 3rd place coming into Lisbon.

Headed toward Lisbon

Not only was it great to see Ted and Mili but we can’t thank them enough for making it possible to get so close to the action in Miami.

One last note, Matt’s taking donations to purchase Mar Mostro, which is now for sale for a few million. If he receives enough to buy it, all those who donate are promised the ride of a lifetime!


Volvo Ocean Race – The First 40 Years

If you’re determined to be in the sailing game, you have to do this Race.

Sir Peter Blake, a famous VOR skipper

We may pass on all other major sports but we wouldn’t miss a moment of this nine month RACE AROUND THE WORLD!

Considered the “Everest of Sailing”, the Volvo Ocean Race is a sport in a league of its own. It’s the world’s premier offshore race, an exceptional test of sailing prowess and human endeavour, which started almost 40 years ago as the Whitbread Round the World Race.

This video is a compelling history of the race. It features dramatic footage from rounding Cape Horn 20 years ago to the Volvo Open 70’s that slice through the water today. It’s a little less than an hour long and if you’re even remotely into sailing, we bet you’ll be hooked after the first few minutes (be sure to watch in full screen mode).

And just as some people anticipate their favorite teams progressing toward the Super Bowl, we’re already counting down the days until we’re on the water welcoming the boats’ arrival from Itajai into Miami in May!


Racer’s Reunion

A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to catch up with our dear sailing friends and racing mentors, Diann and Tim!

 The Gold Rush Regatta on Lake Grapevine a few years ago, 1st Place Finish!

Though we met at their house, the talk was all sailing! It was great to hear about their latest adventures chartering in the Caribbean and they quizzed us on the cruising life.

We also learned that the original Coquette (pictured) is now for sale. It’s the boat we first learned to sail on and she’s berthed on a nearby lake. Needless to say we’re considering a little Beneteau as we scout our next cruising boat.

Harvest Moon Regatta

Living ashore has by no means left us landlocked.

Since our return to Texas, we’ve been welcomed aboard an armada of sailboats. For us, this has really helped bridge the distance between cruising and landlife. Through former marina neighbors, cruising connections and newfound friends from this blog, it seems there’s always a sailboat shoving off from a dock somewhere nearby.

So, last week, we headed to the coast with plans for Matt to crew in the Harvest Moon Regatta, a 150-mile offshore race from Galveston to Port Aransas, Texas.

The Curmudgeon II crew, Post-race

It turned into a mini-sailing reunion as Steve, from Anchor Management, joined him on the boat, Curmudgeon II, out of the Houston Yacht Club. The boat’s owner, Terry, welcomed the seasoned sailors and the guys jumped at the chance to spend a few days and nights afloat. Throw in a little competition, near perfect sailing weather, a glowing red Harvest Moon and, well, it just couldn’t get any better (unless, of course, they would have taken 1st place).

A sea full of spinnakers

After a solid start, the fleet hoisted spinnakers and the crew on Curmudgeon wasn’t about to be left behind. Once launched, the “kites” ballooned full of air and the boats were off! Little did they know, they would be flying the spinnaker for the next 31 hours. In fact, the spinnaker didn’t get dropped until after gliding across the finish line.

As Matt said, this year’s Harvest Moon Regatta had all the makings of a great race:

  • Highs and lows (both wind and emotions)
  • Moments of intense sailing and hours of just slogging away at the miles
  • Debates about anchors, weather, and the best islands to visit
  • Stories shared about storms, fishing and past races (each most likely exaggerated)
  • And, most importantly, the camaraderie and teamwork that so quickly develop when miles from shore

My role in the race? While I would have loved to have been aboard, plans with family and the need for ground crew took priority.  So, I made the five hour drive from Houston down to Port Aransas (it’s a pretty big state) to pick up the worn out crew. After a bit of visiting, we pointed the 4-wheeled vessel’s bow north and crossed back into Houston around 4 o’clock the next morning.

Sunset on the last night of the regatta

Despite a middle-of-the pack finish, Matt relished the opportunity to watch the orange moon rise on a rolling ocean, feel the wind tousle his shaggy hair, and fall asleep to the creaking of the rigging when not on shift. All-in-all, a great way to spend a few days afloat.


North From Norfolk

Kaleo and crew left Norfolk Sunday morning on the cusp of a heat wave bound for Deltaville, VA, about a day’s sail up the Chesapeake.

 A Navy ship heading out of the Hampton Roads on our way to Deltaville

As we passed by the marina in Deltaville we caught a glimpse of our friends’ Ted and Mili’s boat, Morning Glory, waiting patiently for their return from land touring. We so wished they were around as we set the hook in the serene harbor nearby.

Entering Deltaville through a very skinny channel

Sunset on the hook in Deltaville

After a peaceful night’s rest (and our last at anchor aboard Kaleo), we made for Solomon’s Island, MD. That morning the heat wave finally caught up with us as we made a windless motor passage in 95° heat. Electing for a good night’s rest, we pulled into a marina and fired up the A/C. We ordered pizza, had our showers and enjoyed the almost freezing interior.

We spent the evening debating the pros and cons of continuing to explore the Chesapeake for a few more months. And while there are literally hundreds of places to sail and see in the Chesapeake, annually July and August are hot (not fun to anchor in), windless (meaning more motoring, less sailing), with a lot of the bay being home to nettles, a kind of jellyfish (limiting any thought of swimming).

The Wolftrap Lighthouse on the Chesapeake

In the end, we decided it wouldn’t be a lot of fun if we were bound to marinas for the A/C, so next stop was Herrington Harbor where we would store Kaleo.

The parade of sails from Solomons to the Chesapeake

Tuesday morning, as we headed for the yard, hundreds of sailboats swarmed out of the harbor in sync with us as if offering a spectacular send-off parade. While it was really all the racers from the Annapolis to Solomons Screwpile Challenge, it was a wonderfully emotional lift to be surrounded by so many light-hearted sailors along our final sail into the Chesapeake Bay.


National Family Island Regatta in GT

Tuesday marked our return to George Town for the 58th Annual National Family Island Regatta.

Racing for the windward course mark

The best sailors from every major island in the Bahamas converge to compete for the “Best in the Bahamas” title and a year’s worth of island pride.

The frenzied A Class starting line

Racers hiked out on the prye. Notice the name?

Criss-crossing the course

We’ve met many of the locally-built sloops’ crews and were cheering for the No. 5 boat from Long Island, “Running Tide” and the No. 18 boat from Black Point, “Red Stripe”! Along with these fiercely competitive races is a built-up Regatta Point with brightly-colored booths serving delicious local food, frosty rum drinks, and DJ’s pumping lively music, all Bahamas style!

Intently watching for No. 5

The Black Point favorite, “Red Stripe”. Go Lundy!

“Barbarian”, a little off course

A few of the days, we anchored Kaleo in the thick of the action near the finish line. It was close enough to Regatta Point that we could literally feel the music and smell the BBQ roasting. Hot and sunny afternoons were spent meandering through the huts at Regatta Point with throngs of Bahamians and the ever fun crews of “Storyville,” “Morning Glory,” “Pipe Muh Bligh” and “Palaola.”

A race boat heading out to the start line. Up close and personal with “Kaleo”

The market with hand-woven straw baskets and batik fabrics

The streets of Regatta Point

Que romantic race moment

In the evenings, we would move “Kaleo” to a more peaceful anchorage on the east side of the harbor and unwind from the frenetic but fun energy of locals still swaying to the music in George Town. Of course, we took advantage of the well-stocked Exuma Market, propane truck, bank and such before leaving the harbour.

Though planning to leave Friday morning, we ended up staying an extra day to catch a few more races and spend more time with Deana and Troy of “Storyville.” With heavy hearts, the time has come for us to take diverging routes but can’t thank them enough for all their friendship, advice and encouragement over the past several months. They have truly become part of our family on the water and we look forward to visiting them somewhere down island soon.

The crews of “Kaleo” and “Storyville”

With fond farewells we prepped “Kaleo” for an early Saturday morning departure bound for Little Farmer’s Cay.

N 23° 30.39 / W 75° 45.88

Regatta Results

Friday arrived with one thing on our mind. The results of the races were to be announced that evening at the Regatta Awards Ceremony.

We won 1st Overall in our class!

“Around the Island” Race Crew with 2nd place finish flag, custom caps & bottle o’ rum

“SYL” volunteered to be the water taxi back to Volleyball Beach, allowing us to leave our boats in Red Shanks. The gals headed to the beach for the info-session “Eating Well While Cruising” and the guys dinghyied into St. Francis Resort to track down Internet. They soon returned to the beach where Matt was recruited to play a round of tug-o-war.

As the cooking class wrapped up the guys smelled the food being prepared and we all decided it was time for an early dinner. We feasted on racks of ribs and fresh Grouper at the Chat N’ Chill moments before the awards were to be announced.

Admirals and Captains enjoying dinner & sundowners at Chat ‘N’ Chill

The guys were too antsy to sit, so they hovered behind us on the beach as the first round of awards were called out. The “longest fish caught underway” went to “Guiding Light” who caught a Mahi, the first fish to be caught in the race in the last three years! Various awards for photographs taken during the races were handed out next and the well-deserved “baking underway” prize went to our very own, Deana, who made her famous cheesecake, which was voted first place by all three judges!

Then it was time for the multi-hull results. First up, the “In Harbor Race”. Third place was “Sun Burst”, the crowd applauded and we drew in a breath. Second place, “Guiding Light”. And taking first place, by 8 seconds … “Sea Yawl Later!” We all jumped up and ran forward to hoist the huge 1st place pennant (flag) awarded to Rusty and crew.

Pictures, cheering, and awards for the other boat classes and soon enough we were back in the same place waiting on the results of the “Around the Island Race”.

Third place went to “Guiding Light”.  Second place to “Sea Yawl Later” and first place to “Sun Burst” with only a 20-second lead. While another first place would have been great, “SYL” won first place overall with a first and second place finish. Congratulations and talks of next year’s race filled the canopy under the trees as we all reveled in the fun of racing a craft powered only by the wind.

“SYL” nearly floated above the water on the ride home as we all laughed, joked and held out the immense first place flag.

In-Harbour Regatta Race

Recharged and ready for the day, we enjoyed a warm and filling breakfast of Migas, then dinghyied over to “Morning Glory” and “Sea Yawl Later” who were rafted up together.

The “SYL” crew ready to race

It was the Regatta’s “In-Harbor Race” Day and Matt was crewing aboard “SYL” with Ted from “Morning Glory” under the trusty Captain Rusty.

The guys prepped the boat and soon sailed off leaving the Admirals aboard “Morning Glory” to cheer on the team and enjoy some girl time.

The In-Harbour Race is two laps around a race course marked by large floating buoys and involves sailing both up and down wind. This type of course means that each boat/team will have to make multiple tacks and jibes in order to successfully run the course, which translates into a lot of work for each crew member.

Three fleets of mono-hulls started, then the gun sounded for the multi-hull race as five catamarans sped toward the start line (in a sailboat race the boats are already sailing and can cross the line after the gun but not before, so each team tries to time it as close as possible).

“SYL” crossed the start third in their class and were disappointed as their start had given the leader at least 20 seconds on them. Over the next hour, boats of all sizes and colors battled for the best time on the course.

At one point, “SYL” was neck-in-neck with two other cats, “Guiding Light” and a St. Francis 50, “Penelope”, but in the end, the St. Francis pulled away from “SYL” and “SYL” shouldered in front of “Guiding Light.”

Once more around the marks and “SYL” was third cross the finish line with country music blaring from the loud speaker. Each boat has a (PHRF) rating to help level the playing field, otherwise it would be no contest for the 33 foot “SYL” to compete with the 50 foot St. Francis, as the bigger the boat, the faster it can typically go. The official results won’t be released until the Friday night results party but according to our calculations we think “SYL” came in first or second place.

If there was an award for having the most fun underway, the guys on “SYL” would taken top prize. Their music filled the harbor and had other racers dancing on deck while the guys practiced their “Wind”-inspired choreographed race chants and stance.

The Texas Navy at the Regatta Post Race Party

After the race, we napped and then headed up to the post-race party at St. Francis Resort where “all the racers tell stories about how well they did.” After spinning a few yarns and talking with others, we dinghied home as Matt grumbled about his sore back, neck, shoulders and arms, all from grinding on the winches. He won the prize for first one to bed and soon thereafter, we we’re both sound asleep.

Annual Transgrape Series Race

Our friends Tim & Diann aboard their beautiful Catalina 28, Coquette.Transgrape Race course board. It’s a long one!
Deck hands at the helm.
A day that blessings are made of! We started the day sailing in the annual Transgrape Race on Lake Grapevine with our friends, Tim & Diann, aboard their speedy Coquette. After a great race, Matty took me by Casa Bellamini before ending the evening watching our wedding video that had come in that day and it is uh-mazing! Thank you God for giving me this awesome man.

New Coquette, New Race Series

This weekend we spent time aboard our friends Tim & Diann’s new boat, Coquette. Today marked the 1st race of the Grapevine Sailing Club’s fall series & gave us all a great opportunity to learn to fly the spinnaker. While we didn’t take 1st place, we did have a fun day of catching up and learning. We look forward to having them aboard Kaleo soon to get in some good sailing.

Golden in the Gold Rush Regatta!

An outstanding 1st place finish in the Gold Rush Regatta with our sailing mentors and friends, Tim and Diann, at the Grapevine Sailing Club. We are beyond grateful for them helping us to ‘learn the ropes’ aboard their beautiful Beneteau First 235, “Coquette”.

Winning Weekend

Thrilling, competitive 1st place finish sail race this evening with Matt, Tim & Diane aboard Coquette on Lk. Grapevine!

Sailing Before the Storm

Great, but short afternoon on the water! After serving this morning we headed out to Lk Grapevine to meet up with our captain & admiral, Tim & Diann aboard s/v Coquette. It was the kick-off of the summer race series but was called due to thunderstorms as we were tacking up to the start line. Ah, well … another race in a couple weeks :o)

Happy Birthday, Matty!

It’s a great day for celebrating! Today is Matt’s birthday and when asked how he’d like to spend it, I wasn’t surprised when we headed to the water. We met up with Tim and Diane to sail on their incredible, Coquette, at the Catalina 22 National Regatta Championship on Lake Grapevine.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...