Saturday, October 30, 2010

Alice Cup Leg One 10/23/10

Alice Cup 10/23/2010
Race to Rockville.
The Alice Cup is comprised of two races one from Charleston to Rockville on Saturday and the return from Rockville to Charleston on Sunday. The treat for the Saturday race is it’s a pursuit start. Since we are all sailing PHRF we start based on our handicap so the first boat to cross the finish line wins. This year I sailed on board Ken Kings Quintet a Sabre 38. For our start time we had another competitor that had the same rating so our start times were the same. Here in Charleston we start off the Carolina YC dock which makes the pin end of the line favored 99% of the time. So at the start of a 34 mile coastal race Andiamo and Quintet were both right on time and headed for the pin luckily for us on Quintet we had gotten ourselves a bit too close to line with the out going tide. This was forcing us up hard on the wind to keep off the line. We were also leeward boat which aloowed us to make Andiamo spin to keep clear. Andiamo had gotten themselves just a tick or two too early and had no where else go, always have bailout strategy. We got the ten feet of space we needed to bare off and crossed the line maybe two seconds late but with Andiamo well behind.. Pretty intense start for such a long race but seconds here and there can add up. It was a beam reach for our first short leg to BP. Next leg was out the harbor with a one tack beat out around Fort Sumter. Many boats tacked too early over standing the Fort we short tacked and preceded to fetch out the rest of the channel to our turning mark and the end of the jetties. At G17 we headed downwind to 1S about ten miles away. It was a deep downwind and lumpy which made for difficult spinnaker trimming (to say the least). When we were lucky enough to the get boat in grove you were able to sail closer to the rumbline if not you ended up reaching a bit more and losing distance to the mark. Our arch rival from the start Andiamo had made some gains so we had our work cut out. We stayed patient low allowing us to reach up at the end of the leg where we once again gained on our class and had caught everyone but a J 24 that had been sailing fast in these lighter running conditions. We were able to jibe at 1S and we were now on a starboard jibe with the waves more behind us making it much easier to trim. This leg was another nine miles and the J24 was hanging tough. They were able to surf a bit in these waves and although we reeling ever so slowly. At 2NE we only a few boat lengths behind and had one more mark to round before heading into the finish. The wind had backed a bit to the east so we able to beam reach the short leg to RN6 and it was time to douse the kite and head up towards entrance to Bohicket Creek with a jib. It was a fairly quick ride down so now we were bucking a tide that was still ebbing. We worked our way to the south side of the channel for some current relief and re-set the spinnaker. Meanwhile our only competition was the J24 who had held onto their spinnaker the entire time keeping them very close. As we approached the winds lighten and we also got into the flat water. This allowed us to stretch away slowly working our through the big shifts and changes wind velocity. Not as easy as it sounds as we also had the tide right in our face. I kept waiting for the shift that would face plant us stopping up dead in the water and putting us a the mercy of the current. This would mean going backwards in case you hadn’t added that all up. So it was tense to the finish but the Fat Lady finally sang about four minutes ahead of the next group of boats that all started to compact for the finish. We had won and now it was off to the party.
Lessons learned in lumpy light conditions it pays to really work hard maintaining your speed and sailing as low as possible keeping the distances on the legs to a minimum. Know where the turning marks and have them pre loaded into a GPS or chartplotter. Sounds stupid but getting caught too high or too low can cost you big. Finally just like running to first base in baseball you need to race through the finish line not up to it.

Randy (Where’s Alex ******* )

Monday, August 30, 2010

Ride on Eco 60

We have recently been involved in helping Brad Van Liew get his refitted Open 60 ready to compete in the Velux 5 Oceans Single Handed Around the World Race. One of perks was the opportunity to sail on the boat this past Sunday. The conditions were perfect a good 17- 20 knots of breeze out of the ENE. This direction allowed us to get out of Charleston Harbor and out to ocean under 2 reefs and a staysail. The sail combination gives you a good idea about how powerful these boats are rigged. We worked the boat upwind doing what I would call a very easy 10 knots while we let the B&G autopilot do its thing. The processor of the autopilot will learn from the boats motion making in more efficient and eventually steering the boat better than most. After sailing awhile at 35 apparent and comfortable that the autopilot had learned enough we cracked off about 20 degrees and wow these boats are reaching machines and Le Pingouin was very happy sailing along around 15 with surges to the high teens knocking on the door of 20 knots. At these speeds we were leaving Chucktown in a hurry so its wasn't long before it was time to tack back. If you have ever sailed a Hobie 16 you will know exactly what tacking an Open 60 is like. With the daggerboards keel swung back to center you back the jib and you get the waves just right you will make through the tack. Not an easy feat with us on board let alone Brad by himself so it becomes very obvious that the decision to tack or jibe is not one to be taken lightly. As we headed back are wind angle was little wider 90 degrees allowing us shake one reef and switch from the staysail to solent. Le Pingouin was really reveling in these conditions not a ton of sail area up but just very easily plunking along at 16 17 18 19 knots. Plunking along because the boat is just that great. We came blasting into the harbor and once into the flat water discussions of towing a water skier were made. A couple of good puffs and with the keel canted to 35 degrees Le Pingouin would hold her course heel a bit and take off all in one very smooth motion. Very cool ride indeed reminded me of Ice Boating days. Find out more about The Lazarus Project visit their website at and really see what they are up to. Its a very special project. Thanks Brad for the ride.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Charleston Race Week 2010.
Race registration is now open and the Notice of Race is posted. Sailing instructions are being worked on and will be available online in March. For the 2010 event we will have separate sailing instructions for inshore and offshore courses. Once again we will have two inshore courses and two offshore courses.

Race Director 2010

Friday, May 30, 2008

Daytona to Charleston Race Aboard J120 Ellyria

Daytona to Charleston Gulfstreamer Race 2008

J 120 Illyria
Owner: John Keenan
Crew: John Bowden, Ric Campeau, Randy Draftz, Mark Fanning, Mary Pallazo, Brad Taylor, and John Ward.

Having never sailed on board Illyria prior the Gulfstreamer Race, the unknowns always make for some anxious preparations. We were able to twist some arms and put together a crew of good drivers and sail trimmers that would enable us to keep the boat going fast around the clock. We strategized early and familiarized ourselves with the course’s options so we wouldn’t become overwhelmed with both sailing a new boat plus a crew that hadn’t sailed together before. I had sailed the Gulfstreamer in 2004 where we sailed a great race only to sort out afterwards in debriefing the race that we didn’t go deep enough into the Gulfstream and had exited too early. As someone said in the 2004 race: “why do you think they call the race the Gulfstreamer, Randy”? The sting of that comment remained as if it happened last weekend not four years ago!

We reviewed the weather patterns, which Mark Fanning did a great job sourcing, for weather information prior to the race. We also signed up with Commander’s Weather for their forecast and suggested routing. An XM weather receiver was also installed for tracking and gulfstream imaging so we had done our homework and were ready to race!

The big competition was another J120 Emocean owned by the Hanckel family. They had won their class in the 2006 Gulfstreamer, won the Charleston to Bermuda Race, won their class in the Key West Race this year and were last year’s Charleston Ocean Racing Association’s Boat of the Year! We knew they were fast and with all their J120 experience it was going to be tough to beat them on boatspeed, plus we gave them 3 seconds per mile on handicap due to our boat having a carbon mast.

We had to leave the dock exceptionally early to avoid a falling tide that would not have given us enough water to exit the inlet without bumping our keel. It’s a long trek out to the inlet from the host Halifax Yacht Club but once out through the inlet we were comfortably at the starting area three hours before our 4:30 P.M. scheduled start. We had two mainsails on board: a Dacron delivery main, and a Kevlar racing main, so this extra time allowed us to evaluate both sails. We wanted to use the Kevlar main since it was larger and lighter but felt that it was too tired for the thunderstorms that were forecast. We opted to use the Dacron main that was smaller and heavier but also able to stand up the thunderstorms and the big breeze we expected at the end of the race.

About the only thing we knew about the weather was the first 18- 24 hours were totally up in the air, the forecasters couldn’t come up with anything solid other than that the cold front with a Northeasterly breeze will arrive sometime Saturday afternoon with a solid twenty plus knots. Out strategy from earlier in the week remained intact, that is: get to the stream and ride it up north to set us up for the northeaster. Sounds simple enough but the wind had to cooperate and the forecasts were showing some light westerly winds that would make it impossible to sail quickly to the stream 38 miles to our east. We would just have to sail the breeze we were dealt and if the opportunity arose we would take it to the gulfstream.

The Gulfstreamer is made up of two races. The first race is short ten mile leg that starts off the Ponce Inlet and finishes off the Daytona Pier. The competitors that are in the second leg of the Gulfstreamer Race pass through the finish line and continue on to Charleston. This year’s race had twenty-plus competitors all continuing on to Charleston.

We got started right on time and took the favored leeward end of the line with the wind light and out of the North. We sailed on a starboard tack towards Daytona Beach. Emocean had started further up the line and was already showing us her speed advantage by sailing slightly higher and faster. The wind lightened a bit more and we kept our footing and finally worked back out in front enough to tack and cross comfortably. A sigh of relief--we can hold our own with Emocean! Emocean would recover and at the next crossing they would put a nice lee bow tack forcing us to tack away. We sailed for a while on port tack taking us out in the ocean while Emocean worked up the beach. There were a couple of local boats with us as well: Mangus (a Beneteau 36S5) and Chasing Rainbows (a Hunter Legend 37.7). Both boats were sailing very well out to the east. We tacked back in to cover Emocean and this time Emocean decided belatedly to take our transom, killing their speed. We continued in our starboard tack. The wind shifted a bit more right and Illyria was now just just starting to lay the finish line that was still four miles away. By the time Emocean got their boat moving again we were several hundred yards ahead but slightly to leeward. Emocean started to roll again, being slightly east of us. But they either had a bit less current or more pressure, so they were way faster. We would owe Emocean about 30 seconds in this race so sailing up in front of them to cover just wasn’t an option. We continued to sail towards the favored pier end and watched Emocean sail right by for the fourth lead change of this short race. They finished almost two minutes ahead. The finish line was a bearing from the north edge of the pier extending approximately 200 yards without any buoy. (Note to RC it really needs a buoy). Once Emocean had passed we sailed up behind so we could finish and immediately go hard on the wind towards the stream. Without the buoy, it left the end of the line open to interpretation and we dialed up inside of Emocean. We might have lost the short race but now Illyria was just where we wanted to be--leading Emocean out towards the stream. The wind gods cooperated slightly, allowing us to sail a reasonable 70 degree heading hard on the wind toward the stream. Mangus finished the sprint close behind us for a very good race, luckily for us they were in the non spinnaker class. It had to be quite a show from the dock to see the two J120s heading out almost bow to bow! This was going to be one very good race! We spent the rest of the evening just slightly to weather and ahead with Emocean legging out once in while, then it would be our turn as the wind would swing back and forth and up and down in velocity. There were a number of thunderstorms predicted for Friday night and they started showing up just after dark. We anticipated a long night ahead of us managing the rapidly changing conditions brought about by these thunderstorms.

We’d installed a laptop with WxWorx software and a XM satellite receiver so we could monitor the stream and current weather information but the radar imagery for tracking the thunderstorms was invaluable. We had four to five storms come offshore that just missed us to the north and south. We got a couple of blasts from these fronts but mostly big shifts and light to no air. As we anticipated, plenty of sail changes and one blown out spinnaker later, we were in the stream heading north. With the morning light, we found Emocean on the horizon a good two to three miles directly behind us. We spent all of Saturday fetching with the heavy one up , trying to stay in the current as much as possible. The further north we could get before the northeaster the better. Once again, the WxWorx software proved its value as we used its surface temperature display to manage our position relative to the best parts of the stream. Illyria maintained the lead on Emocean and finally we started to see signs of the northeaster arriving on some of the weather buoys to the north. We decided to tack over onto starboard to see what our course over ground would be. We were far enough East that the finish was now bearing 358 degrees--our course over ground on this tack was only about 330 so on the next header we tacked back to cover our friends on Emocean. We were getting closer to the Northeast breeze and thought Emocean would be tacking to starboard soon and we would follow suit but we waited and still no tack from Emocean. With the northeaster starting to show up we decided to tack away from the competition. This is never an easy decision to make especially when you have them in you hip pocket, so to speak. Not fifteen minutes after we tacked the northeaster arrived with twenty knots of wind and its shift to the right had us sailing a course over the ground 350 degrees, a mere eight degrees from the rhumb line to the finish. We changed down to the number three and eventually reefed the mainsail to keep the boat’s helm balanced enough to steer around and over the building seas. It took about an hour for the seas to get the point of making things uncomfortable but the wind had also shifted a bit more right making our heading into the waves more manageable. We were also getting a nice two knot push from the stream, making our course over ground now 5 degrees, and well above our rhumb line. We were happy to gain the distance for the later stages when we would be out of the stream. We gradually got to the point where we had to start reaching off which is not as easy it sounds when you have the eight foot walls of water slapping you around. We had lost track of Emocean but since we were lifted and over standing the finish line ourselves we were confident that we had only extended our lead into the finish.

We finished at the Charleston “C” buoy at 03:31:27 early enough to win our spinnaker division and the Gulfstreamer Trophy for Overall.

Many thanks to John Keenan for putting up with a bunch of people he had never met nor sailed with, and getting his boat entered and delivered to Daytona. John Bowden was everywhere and I mean everywhere: up the rig, at the bow, at the helm, at the navigation table--always spot on. I am sure Mary Pallazo packed more spinnakers that Friday night that she has all season and was probably glad to see one of them blow up as it meant one less to pack. Mary was also just relentless on that weather rail as was John Ward and our wave breaker Mark Fanning. All three would occasionally get washed down the rail by a breaking wave! Mark was invaluable with his weather research and did a masterful job of driving up and away from Emocean after the sprint race. Ric and Brad both took stints driving and trimming, keeping everyone fresh on the helm with their good humor.

Keys to success were: creating our strategy early, making the plan and sticking to the plan, good teamwork and personalities, having good information that allowed good decisions and having a good boat set up properly for offshore racing.

And I’ll always remember they call it “the Gulfstreamer for a reason”.

Randy Draftz
May 27, 2008

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

C.O.R.A Double Handed Race Report

Double Handed Race 11/18/2006

The weather cooperated giving the competitors a sunny but shifty breeze that varied as far left as west and as far right as north. The velocity was up and down as well, varying from 3 knots to 10 knots in the puffs. The race committee chose course 11 for the A,B, C and course 2 for D. These courses provided plenty of windward leeward work and kept everyone close, providing plenty of opportunities for some and misfortune for others.
In fleet A is was Ric and Deb Campeau (Hoodoo) leading the way for four the first four legs then falling into one of those holes. Someone forgot to connect the dots (Ric), luckily for Ric, Deb is a forgiving person and he didn’t have to sleep on the boat Saturday night. The Buckeye’s (Arrow) ended up prevailing in fleet“A” in the shifty conditions followed by Emocean and Pagan.

In C Fleet it was Quintette continuing their winning ways despite getting caught at the start with the chute up on the wrong jibe. They were eventually able to make the set work as the wind shifted back to the west. Quintette never looked back, and extended their lead throughout the race due so very energetic young crew work.

In B Fleet Footloose took the lead early but changes were to happen throughout the race. The last leg the breeze filled in from the east and the boats that jibed over towards the east were able to take the lead. The race was definitely not over until you crossed the finished line. Footloose was able to regain the lead just before the finish followed by Latte and Nautiest who finished a second or two apart.

The D Fleet was led by the Soveral 39 Avalon. Avalon showed a good lead but couldn’t finish far enough head after getting on the wrong side of a right hand shift. Raven with Tim Burke at the helm navigated the shifts and up an down breeze to finish second boat for boat and correct into first place. Raven was followed by the well sailed English Beat and Avalon corrected to third.

Help spread the word on our first Turkey Regatta being held this Sunday first start is scheduled off the Carolina Yacht Club dock at 1:00 pm. What better way to get outside and give those holiday guests a tour of the harbor.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Savannah Challenge Race Updates

Here you will find the latest information regarding this upcoming weekend's Savannah Challenge. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact Randy Draftz at .

5/19/06 22:00
They are off and running literally, nine boats left the Charleston Harbor for their respective turning marks off the Georgia coast. Midnight Rider a Turbo Rigged Santa Cruz 70 lead the A fleet followed by the J120 Emocean, the J109 Hoodoo, the Sabre 362 Buena Vida and the Beneteau 35s5 Andiamo. Fleet B is the non spinnaker who were all tightly bunched with Tohidu, Lyric, Naut On Call and Drifter chasing each other out of the harbor. With a strong westerly and ebb tide it didn’t the fleet very long. Forecasts were for the westerly winds to gradually ease up and go more south making for upwind beat to turning mark. At 9:30 referencing the NOAA weather buoys there appeared more breeze offshore 14knots out of 200 degrees compare to the 8 knots inshore at approximately 230 degrees. Heading to the turning buoy 234 degrees it should be a long night.

5/20/2006 7:00 EDT

At 3:00 EDT this morning Midnight Rider was rounding the Savannah Light buoy marking the half way point for the race. From referencing the weather buoys it looks like the buoy is making a good weather mark. Current wind conditions still have the wind out of the southwest at about 14 knots with wave heights about three feet. We would expect the next boat to round to be Emocean. If Emocean is sailing to her rating she would be rounding roughly 2.5 hours behind Midnight Rider. Unfortunately if they were dead upwind to the mark the extra distance sailed will favor the larger Midnight Rider. With the current conditions and forecast I would expect Midnight Rider could be finishing before noon today.

5/20/2006 11:00 EDT

Midnight Rider finishes! Midnight Rider with the crew hiking hard crossed the finish line this morning 10:28:18. Emocean called in earlier this morning reporting their rounding of the Savannah Light buoy at 8:44 this morning, Wind was holding out of the southwest continuing to make the mark upwind for all the competitors. Emocean did see Hoodoo the J109 and said they appeared about another hour away from the turning mark. Emocean was making 8 knots running downwind back to the harbor entrance. If the wind holds out of the southwest at its present 14 knots Emocean should be finishing around 6:00 pm this evening well after Midnight Rider’s time allowance expires.

13:00 EDT

B Fleet rounds the Port Royal turning mark. Tohidu was first around at 12:18 followed by Naut On Call at 12:33 with Lyric close to rounding at the time of this posting. Drifter was several miles back after finding a wind hole near shore. Wind is starting to lighten up a bit but continuing to blow out of the southwest. With 58 miles to go for the leaders in B Fleet it is looking like a finishing times will be around 22:00 to 23:00 if the wind holds. The remaining A Fleet competitiors will be finishing early this evening.

Monday, May 01, 2006

CORA Sheriffs Cup 2006

Sheriff’s Cup 2006

What a race! As most of you know the Sheriff’s Cup to Rockville is different from most races in that the starts are staggered based on the individual handicaps. In this years race we had the boat that started first and the boat that started last, finish first and second within thirty seconds of each other. Finishing first was Tim Burke with his Tartan 30 Dissipation and Steve Orchards Melges 32 Grins thirty seconds behind. Boats that started earlier might not have gotten the benefit of the ebb tide but did have their breeze from a more northerly direction allowing them to fetch out of the harbor. The boats starting later had to deal with a more easterly breeze making for several tacks before turning downwind towards IS and on into Rockville. As the breeze shifted it also came in a bit stronger, solidly in the mid twenties and puffs in the thirties. Almost the entire fleet could have sailed in the main and jib class today, only Grins the Melges 32, Emocean the J120 and Buena Vida hoisted spinnakers. Unfortunately for Emocean their spinnaker came down in pieces. With the big waves from the Northeast steering was difficult to say the least. Without the use of spinnakers keeping the distance sailed to a minimum was the key. Another factor was keeping enough sail area up to maintain your pace with the waves. It is amazing how much easier the boat will track when it’s surfing with the waves versus wallowing in the troughs. The post race comments were, tales of record boats speeds on many of the boats. The Melges 32 spent a good five minutes on their side after one spectacular wipe out but took only three hours and ten minutes to sail the 33 mile course. Emocean was sailing so fast with their small spinnaker before it exploded they had to reach back in under jib from the Bahamas. Buena Vida was coming into Edisto and was starting to get passed by the larger Tohido when they decided to set their spinnaker for the sprint to the finish. I was wishing I had a video camera as Buena Vida crashed and burned and then struggled to gain control. In the end it all worked out and Buena Vida extended to beat Tohidu across the line by thirty five seconds. When sailing with a jib underneath a spinnaker remember to ease its sheet and let the sail luff. Overtriming the jib will make it very difficult to control and trim your spinnaker effectively. Another important heavy air spinnaker trimming tip is, never overtrim you spinnaker sheet. If you are overtrimmed and the boat goes to wipe out you will have too much sheet to ease out and the sail will continue to stay full accelerating and increasing the harshness of the wipeout. Keep the sail on its edge just as if it was blowing ten knots.
It took roughly another hour for the rest the fleet to finish with the last boat finishing just around 3:15 P.M. Plenty of time to clean up the boats and have a few beverages, while getting ready for the great BBQ dinner and Texas Hold Em tourney.

With the forecast for Sunday predicting similar conditions there were already discussions of returning to Charleston via the ditch. As expected the bulk of the fleet looked at the 25 knots out of the Northeast and turned right to the ditch instead of left to the ocean. We did have six starters that included Emocean, Wings of Freedom, Hoodoo, Tohidu, Suwannee, and Buena Vida. Buena Vida quickly found that they hadn’t sufficient sea sickness medication and turned around and headed to the ditch. Hoodoo had almost gotten back to IS when their mainsail started disintegrating along the leech from all the flogging it was taking. Hoodoo returned downwind back to Bohicket. The seas were running six to eight at a nasty interval making for a very bumpy ride out of the Edisto. Eventually the breeze (as predicted) shifted more to the east lifting the remaining fleet to the jetties of Charleston. As the breeze shifted it also began to diminish allowing the two leaders Emocean and Wings of Freedom to enter the harbor with their spinnakers, then jibing at BP and reaching across the finish line. Emocean finished first at 5:02: 10 with Wings of Freedom finishing at 5:26:35. The breeze continued to diminish leaving the Stephens 50 Suwannee to finish at 6:23:24 and Tohidu at 7:28:10. A tough day, beating in 25 knots earlier in the day and finishing the day light air running and having to fight the flooding tide to cross the finish line. Sailing does reward patience.

For those who missed this great race make sure you put October 21st and 22nd on your calendar for this years dates for the Alice Cup.

Results are posted on the CORA website.

Rear Commodore.