Monday, November 10, 2008

25 KNOTS Hot Rum Race 1 Abandoned

[San Diego Yacht Club] Sunday dawned blustery, and promised to be an exciting day. It did not disappoint, but it wasn’t the kind of excitement most people sign up for.

Almost all of the 141 registered boats checked in and were buzzing to get started. However, even before the first start, the markset boat setting the buoys out by SD 3 was acutely aware that:

There was a lot of breeze (20 – 25 steady)
A lot of kelp
A lot of big swells
These three things would conspire to bring down the first Hot Rum Race.

After getting the first two marks anchored, and being two miles south of Pt. Loma, the markset boat began the arduous task of powering directly into the swell to get back up to set the last mark (5). This last point was one that was not witnessed by most competitors since they never got that far down the course. But for the several boats that did, they will tell you that a two mile beat into those conditions was really bad, and the kelp was even worse.
Another markset boat, that eventually set mark 5 went to the assistance of three sail boats that ventured down to the vicinity of Mark 3 (in the Roads). They were disabled due to kelp that had enveloped their keels and sail drives/struts minimizing their ability to sail. One freed their engine after being under tow for 20 minutes, the other had to be towed by Vessel Assist after breaking the tow line to the markset boat.

So exactly what happened… With Mark 2 (set in vicinity of SD 3) of the course 'missing', the vast majority of sailors sailed right by SD 3 and chose to round "SD" another mile further out to sea. With a handicapped race missing a mark and all those boats sailing significantly beyond SD 3, it was no longer a fair race and needed to be abandoned. The next edition of Sailing Instructions will likely feature some language that references what to do in the event a mark is missing. Mark 2 was eventually found 2.7 nm south of Point Loma.
The marks were set, as usual, with 8 lbs bruce anchors, 10' of 1/4" chain and 120' of road (in approx. 50'-70' of water). What the anchors would not do is hold the marks in place when draped with extensive kelp, pulled by current, lifted by swells, and blown by 25 kt. winds. We do have gear that will hold those marks in place but they weren’t the ones being used. For those that think that was the only problem, we’ll have the heavy anchors next time. For those that would have gotten around the course successfully, we're sorry the race didn't go. For those that might have broken spars, boats, or worse, people…but didn't – we were lucky we called it when we did. For those that chose to retire before we abandoned, thank you for recognizing your limits. Stay tuned for Hot Rum II, November 23rd.

Sail safe, sail for fun!

Sailing Office out.