2018 Nassau Cup2
Chris and Karen Lewis' Kenai finishing in Nassau under A2. Happy to report she avoided the rocks!

NASSAU, BAHAMAS - Coral YC, Nassau YC and Storm Trysail Club hosted the Nassau Cup Ocean Race from Miami to Nassau, Bahamas November 15 to 16 being the first Islands in the Stream Series event for the 2018-19 season. After free rum drinks and a regatta briefing at Coral YC Miami. We noticed interestingly that the fleet had consolidated entries in the last 10 days across IRC, ORC and PHRF to one 13 boat ORC fleet split between ORC1 and ORC2. This left a cruiser and then Argo the MOD70 trying for the course record.

ORC 1 included three TP52’s with Denali, Fox and Spookie. Fox being a well-sailed west coast boat that is campaigning SORC. STC member Steve Benjamin sailing Spookie as the scratch boat and STC member Chris Lewis in J/44 Kenai. A canting keel Shock 40 and Farr 40 being comprising the balance of the ORC1 Class.

ORC2 included a range of boats from an Aerodyne 38 with STC member HL DeVore navigating to a Catalina 425 SD sailed by Russell Dunn, a former racing yacht owner.

The outlook during the week was for a 70 nm beat across the Gulf Stream into a NE blast, but as race day came the cold front was delayed and the fleet got off to a spinnaker start in a warm SE breeze. As predicted the wind dropped when yachts crossed the Gulf Stream making tactics interesting; 4.5 knots of boat speed and 3 knots of current! Boats that gybed early gambling not to benefit from a later port gybe header benefited with a better VMC to Great Isaac Lighthouse and the earliest pick up of the cool NW breeze that filled in across the course. Meanwhile the scratch boats worked to maintain their lead through the stormy thermal cloud induced wind variations.

Rounding Great Isaac Lighthouse and setting course to the Great Stirrup Cay the NW breeze built from 8 to 22 knots over the balance of the race, veering to the NNE and providing fast reaching conditions during the night. Racing on the edge of control with shallow reefs to leeward the mid fleet boats caught the TP52’s. Kenai’s navigator was surprised to be able to pick them up on AIS during the graveyard shift. The frontal passage was slow enough to frustrate Spookie, et al., as they gybed downwind hunting for angle and breeze.

On Kenai we set the A3, Code Zero, A5 and finally the big A2 as we rounded Great Stirrup Cay. At one point a short in our NEMA 2000 network took the boat dark and made for an exciting time steering by traditional compass binnacle until the offending backup GPS antenna was disconnected. You don’t realize how dependent upon digital data at night you are until you lose it all!

The sun came up to a 18-24 knot port broad reach into the finish in building seas. Kenai hit 16 knots and left a broad flattened sea behind as her 23,000 pounds tried to defy the physics of a displacement yacht. Thin Ice, the Aerodyne 38 finished just ahead under jib as we charged into Nassau harbor past the breakwater. The focus was on dowsing the kite as we crossed the finish with very little sea room.

The overall results reflected the impact of the slow moving front. Kenai corrected to win OCR1 and Russell Dunn sailing his new Catalina won the Nassau Cup and ORC2. Thin Ice navigated by H L Devore was 2nd overall as the first yacht that was not equipped with in mast furling!

Nassau YC provided great hospitality and J/22 match racing on Saturday before the buffet and awards. It’s always a great pleasure to be in Nassau and have such gracious hosts.
SORC is a seriously fun and has great sailing conditions. Why anyone who could sail south and make these events doesn’t do so beats us. Why not plan on next year?

Chris and Karen Lewis
J/44 Kenai