DOUBLE-HANDED OCEAN RACING LESSONS LEARNED

The J/109 WHISKEY JACK crossing the finish line in Subic Bay after a windy China Sea Race.

Nick Southward and UK Sailmakers' Barry Hayes have become the first team to race the 590-mile Hong Kong to Manilla race double-handed, and they did it on a 36-foot J/109 named WHISKEY JACK. Most of the race for WHISKEY JACK was sailed in 30 knots of wind -- with 40-45 knots for almost the whole second day of race. Sailing against fully-crewed teams, the duo finished third in IRC 2. They broke and fixed a lot of gear, but their sails were not on the "to repair" list. Click here to read Nick's article about the race that all doublehanded racers and doublehanded wannabees should read. Nick has a lot of good observations including this one after Barry was flung across the cockpit during a knockdown.

Off the wind, the boat went well with the genoa rolled to half-size and the main double reefed.

"At this point we realised that all the talk of MOB training and all the plans we had made would have been a rather different story in reality. Image this: It was pitch dark, big waves, strong wind, boat going at 10 kts. What would have happened if one of us had gone over? With the exhaustion from lack of sleep how would the other have reacted? By the time one had turned the boat round it would have been very hard to find him. With the AIS being on the laptop down below, how could one of us have monitored this and driven the boat at the same time? How to see him with 5m waves? I now think it essential to have a dedicated marine chart plotter integrated with the AIS up on deck by the wheel. Something that I have never thought necessary for inshore racing, but essential when short-handed. We had planned to rely on iPad repeaters on deck, but the wifi connection always proved to be too unstable and they were too fiddly to use."  

The article ended with: "What was strange about this race was that it was only the slower boats at the back of the fleet that were caught in the really spicy weather -- the rest further ahead seemed to have a relatively pleasant sail, with the front runners always ahead of the weather."

"What summarised this race for me was the realisation that no matter how well prepared you think the boat is, it never is prepared enough. The race proved to be a series of challenges, one after the other, of how to fix broken stuff without the relevant spare parts you never thought you would need." 

Congratulations to the A40 SEAWOLF, which took first in IRC 2, shown above sailing with you Uni-Titanium sails just after the start of the 2016 China Sea Race.