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Coastal Cup Gets Breeze

For the 16 boats in the Encinal YC’s Coastal Cup, it hasn’t taken long to get down the coast. The first of Wednesday’s starters to reach the finish off the West End of Catalina Island, Steve Stroub’s Tiburon-based SC 37 Tiburon, finished at 6:11 this morning in 10-12 knots of breeze, only 45 hours after starting. But that 10-12 knots was a far cry from the 30-plus they saw throughout the race.

"These were the biggest waves I’ve ever surfed, apart from in the Molokai Channel," said Tiburon navigator Will Paxton. "I didn’t think she could do it, but she just rampaged. We were seeing sustained surfs of 20-plus knots and even put up a 23.5-knot top speed on the GPS. The bow wave was back at the primary winches!"

Paxton gave credit to a an old-style 77-sq-meter J/105 kite they brought along as a backup. After tearing their main four hours into the race, Tiburon sailed with a reef and that kite all the way to the finish.

"About a week before the race, I was thinking that the last time I did this race, I had to drop out because we blew up all of our kites," Stroub said. "So I called up the guy who bought my old J/105, and asked him if we could buy back the kite. It’s a 1.5-oz kite that I’d bought right before the rule changed (to allow larger spinnakers) and had only been used once. That sail rocked! It was about six feet short on the hoist and two feet short on the tack, and it was perfect."

The ‘sharks’ didn’t have an otherwise trouble-free race. Fifty miles out from the finish, the steering system exploded, and they spent 45 minutes on their side, hove-to — or in certain cases, dry-heaving — while Paxton rebuilt the steering system.

"It was the epic downhill, heavy air, gear-busting race it’s supposed to be," Paxton said.

Rufus Sjoberg and Dylan Benjamin aboard the former’s 11 Meter Skiffsailingfoundation.org were not far behind, and may stand a good chance at overall honors also, although we can’t be sure, as there are no official finish times posted yet. The Thursday starters are currently being led on elpased time by Richard Clark’s Open 60 Oh Canada, which like many of the boats found pressure well offshore — Tiburon got as far as 120 miles off the coast at one point. Keep checking on the race’s webpage for more info, and look in the July issue of Latitude 38 for more on this barnburner of a race.

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Northern California’s Louis Kruk sailed to Mexico about four years ago with his sweetheart Laura Willerton aboard their Beneteau 42 Cirque.