Wannabe Sailing Bum
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: SF Bay Area
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Great Cruise with a 10kts Broach!
As part of our preparation for the '08 Ha Ha, my crew and I cruised from SF Bay out the gate to the Lightship channel buoy and then on down to Half Moon Bay. During our sail, we came across at least a dozen Humpback whales frolicking just off the coast. Several times they were so close I worried about running into them. What an incredible sight!
On the way back, we set the spinnaker just outside the gate. Breeze was about 10kts out of the West, and, as expected, once we crossed under the bridge into the Bay, our usual summer winds kicked up to 20-21kts. Our speed kicked up to 10-11kts nearly dead downwind as we flew across the Bay West to East. I have to say that the 473 loves going downwind with a big kite and pole. In those winds, I'm guessing a hotter angle would have produced 12-14kts of boat speed. Bene and Groupe Finot have done a great job building a medium displacement performance cruiser with a relatively flat and fast bottom. The boat was so well balanced it felt like we were on rails. One of my crew members owns a Celestial 48 CC. At 42,000lbs displacement with no spinnaker, he is completely fired up to sail south on my Bene. He was shocked at the performance in both light and strong winds. Cheers to that!
But...just before we reached the Berkeley circle and doused, we decided to throw in one last gybe for practice. It didn't go so well. We ended up broaching. Even though it was a pretty sketchy situation, of which I've experienced atleast 2 dozen times on J105's and J90's, I have to say that I'm now more impressed with the 473 than ever before. We blew vang and sheeted out the spinnaker and steered her right back down wind. We barely wetted the toe rail, even though she went way over. I consider that a great experience for the crew (and nothing broke).
As a side note, I would have never chosen to rig a full spinnaker with pole without having the deep draft keel (6'11"), as a broach like that with a shoal draft (5'7") would likely have led to a much nastier broach. I've validated that my boat is a highly capable kite flier.