Downwind Sailing Under a Full Moon

For the first roll call of the 2018 Vallarta Race, it was clear that Peter Isler’s weather briefing the morning before had been spot on. “You’re going to have a banner evening with full moon and full breeze…” he advised.

Thus this from Marjorie Friday morning: “…Just as Peter promised – bright worm moon, building breeze and great sailing…”, and “…sacrificed 1 spinnaker in 21 knot gybe…”. Cabernet Sky chimed in with “…spin halyard separated just after sunset, fished A3 from under boat…”. And this from Tropic Thunder “…30kt gust took out full symmetrical sail…”!

All boats went on to comment all on board were well, and all sails had been recovered. Wind and seas Friday morning were averaging 15-20 kts, seas 4’-6’, and mostly clear skies. They had progressed between 80 and 130 miles for their 18  hours of effort.

At Peter Isler’s very detailed pre-start weather briefing for the Friday starters (Division 6, 5, and 4) Peter mentioned the Friday starters drew the proverbial “Short Straw” – alluding to the less favorable forecast for boats leaving Friday. But observations from the start line showed full sun, winds 10-12 kts from 230ish degrees. The velocity will be lighter Friday night, but sailors are expected to avoid the impact of a low-pressure system filtering down the west coasts.

“We’re excited! It’ll be a little light air getting out of here, so that will be a bit of a challenge; but, we it actually goes pretty well in those conditions, so it might be a bit of a help for us. Then it looks like it’ll turn into some fantastic sailing conditions. We’re sailing with the regular crew, 8 guys, and we have lots of good food on board! My wife Jenny got us all set up and it’s going to be fabulous.”
 - Dave MacEwen, Lucky Duck

“Our goals are to win. Hopefully there will be some wind. We have a great group that we sail with often, we did the Islands Race together. Ready to put the sails up and haul ass!”
- Chuck Sinks, Stark Raving Mad VII

“I’m feeling very excited. It’s been awhile since I’ve been offshore, so I’m really looking forward to getting out under the stars and having some nice quiet sailing with my friends. I’m lucky enough to be sailing with my dad, John, who is navigating. It sounds like it’s going to be a little light, which simply means we get to enjoy the ocean for that much longer I guess!”
- Erik Shampain, Timeshaver

“I am so excited to have a near record fleet participating in our signature biennial PV race. Downwind sailing with a full moon is a pure pleasure of offshore sailing. Racing down along Baja is a must do on any offshore sailor's list. I’ll be meeting the boats down in PV once they finish, but I wish I was sailing down with them!”

- Mike Dorgan, SDYC Commodore

And although the forecast has been diminished in severity for Saturday, the velocity will be up and the direction will be down…or rather more southerly. Saturday starters are expected to be beating for most of their first day. The winds will back and become more southwesterly as they progress down the coast and into the evening.

Divisions 3, 1 and 0 will have starts at 12:00, 12:10, and 12:20 on Saturday.