On my way home now from the 2012 Copa De Mexico regatta held this last week on Banderas Bay, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. What week it was both on and off the water!
The Copa de Mexico is a two and half week long sailing extravaganza that combines three events. First is the finish of the 1200 mile long San Diego to Puerto Vallarta race. Second is the event J/24 event which I participated in which is a World Championship style event sailed over 5 days (10 races) on Banderas Bay. The third event is MEXORC which is a big boat event also over 5 days that combines closed course racing and medium distance races around the bay.
The venue, Banderas Bay, is the largest bay in the world and combines stunning mountain backdrops with warm water and good wind. The event is staged from the new Marina Rivera Nayarit in a small village on the north side of the bay called La Cruz. All crews are housed at the Marival Resort a short bus ride away in Nuevo Vallarta which is large development of resorts with good security and all the amenities.
The event is heavily subsidized by the state of Nayarit, the Mexican federal government and the Mexican Tourism board. This helps to make it quite affordable for more crews, and creates a whole fleet of ambassadors for Mexico and the region. 52 J/24s participated in this edition with crews coming from the U.S., Sweden, Monaco, Italy, Chile, Germany, France, Brazil, and of course Mexico. Charter boats are provided for all out of country sailors.I was fortunate to have a great crew who sailed with me for the week. We had a great time, made some great new friend and renewed friendships with many others. For the week I had doing bow, George Witter from Santa Barbara, CA. George normally sails with recent NA Champions, “3 Big Dogs”. Doing the mast, calling the wind and providing Spanish translation was Dave Reed from Newport, R.I.. Dave is the editor of Sailing World and will likely be doing a feature story on the event shortly. Doing tactics and lightening the mood onboard was Chuck “El Chucko” Allen. North sail designer extraordinaire Rich Bowen trimmed sails and helped a lot with boat speed.
Sailing conditions for the regatta were varied from a full day of 18 plus knots on the practice day to races sailed in 5-6 knots… Sunny skies and warm temps were the rule each day. Some of us put on spray tops but only very briefly.
With a large fleet, the starting line was quite long placing a real premium on starting at the correct end. With fairly shifty conditions it was important to be in phase right away with clear air, if you could do this big gains could be made if not it was very difficult to break out of the pack.
On board our boat our strategy was to be conservative, get good starts and let our speed work to our advantage over the long time. My rusty starting skills were a challenge in the beginning of the regatta but got better as the event went on. Also we unfortunately were OCS on the “Z Flag” start which cost us a few extra uneeded points. In the end we were pleased to finish a solid third and look forward to the Spring and Summer season coming up. Onboard “Bogus” we used the North San Diego main and paneled genoa and a slightly modified version of the FR-2 San Diego spinnaker we are developing.
Here are some thing I learned over the week that might help you in your J/24 Sailing:
- Always set the rig up for conditions at the start, don’t worry about the rest of the race speed off the line is essential
- When starting allow plenty of time coming back on port to find a hole. Keep going on port until you find one. Starting with a boat directly to leeward is practically impossible
- If in doubt set the boat up for the lulls
- In choppy conditions always sail the boat flat..even if it feels slow… The boat does not sideslip when flat.
- Downwind in choppy rolling seas spread crew weight as far as you can side to side. This helps a lot of stabilize the boat.
- If port tack jib is favored and you are towards the front of the fleet be careful about jibing under all the starboard boats approaching the weather mark… Better to go a short distance and jibe in clear air.
- At downwind gates… If they are evenly favored go to one the one that will have less downwind traffic
Congratulations to the winners and to all the sailors using North Sails who took the following places:
I’d like to especially thank Peter Wiegandt and Enrique Perez for their help and most importantly thank the owner of our boat Julian Fernandez for his generosity in lending us his boat.
Learn more about the fast North Sails J/24 designs. Contact the North J/24 experts if you have any questions or need help selecting the best design for your team.