Nov 5, 2013

F18 Americas Continental @Sarasota: Report by Rich Vilvens

Image by Tim Wilkes - Report sent by Rich Vilvens. ZHIK 2013 F18 Americas’ Championships --
"We picked up the trailer with 2 boats on it at Redwood City. I was doing the cross country drive with my dad from Redwood City California to Sarasota Florida. We took the 2 boats to Fairfield for the night and after a good dinner we went to sleep. The next morning after some breakfast we were off. Leaving we noticed some hesitation on the truck but it cleared up and we kept driving.

We got about 300 miles into the trip heading East on I-80 and needed to stop for fuel and food. A nice little truck stop in Nevada and the tank was full and we had a sandwich to go. We swapped drivers and went to run another tank of fuel down. Another stop later in the day and we swapped again. Then after the 3rd leg we stopped for the night and got a hotel to crash at in Utah.

After breakfast we did the same thing again. Doing about 300 miles a run and 3 runs a day we were getting east. The third day of travel the truck was really beginning to show signs of problems and I knew it needed some attention. We got to Cincinnati to pick up mom and I took the truck in to get looked at. The dealership tore the truck down and replaced the head gaskets and fuel injectors with the ECU and control module. They got this done in 3 days and worked all night the last night to get it done.

Now with a fresh fuel system we were off to Florida and making time down I-75. After a couple stops for fuel and food we crossed into Florida and made our way to Sarasota to settle in for the Regatta. We dropped the boat at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron. Deb and Craig helped find a nice parking place for the trailer. We then went to our hotel for the week. After check in we got settled in the room and then went to the restaurant for a nice dinner. Being a bit road weary we turned in early and decided to work on the boat the next day.

Early the next day we got to the Regatta site and began setting up the boats. With Eric’s boat off the trailer we began work on the Capricorn. Got it unloaded and all the gear out of the boxes since we didn’t have the measurement done yet I had to wait to rig it up. We did a little work and put on the pieces that had to be there to measure then called it a day and went back to the hotel.

The next morning the regatta was officially open and we went to get the boat measured in. We wheeled the boat to the measurement area. Boat measured in perfectly and then we went to get the sails measured in. After Rick Bliss got the sails done we were off to start the rigging process. We got everything done except standing the mast and decided to wait till tomorrow when Phillip arrived. Mom and Dad were going to Clearwater for the evening to visit friends and that meant a nice quiet evening at the hotel.
Sunday morning I walked to the site and after about a 2.5 mile walk was ready to get the boat together. Greg helped me get the mast stood and we were ready to sail. Phillip showed up and we took the boat for a short run in the bay. We had good speed in the upwind but were suffering in the downwind. We made a few adjustments after getting off the water and were ready for the first day of practice racing.

Monday morning we finished getting checked in and tried the new settings in the practice racing. We did better but were still a little slower than the other boats off the wind. We were sailing heavy and it was going to cost us on the runs. After a few nice up and down laps we went in. The boat was handling well we just needed a little more speed.

Tuesday we made another adjustment and got ready for racing. The wind was light and shifty but we managed to get 4 races in and were still looking for speed. We had moved the mast rake too far and suffered all day for it. We were sitting in the mid 40’s but confident we could make progress as the week went along. A nice meeting was set up at a local bar and we all had a free drink ticket in our packets.

Wednesday the wind was on and we dropped the mast back a little. We took off and got some practice in Boat was feeling good and we had some nice speed. We unfortunately flipped the boat when we stalled the rudders and the mast seal didn’t hold. Guess I didn’t put the seals in right. With one of the trap line bungees broke in the flip and getting a little help we got the boat back up and went to the start line. With one trap we decided to start with Phillip sitting on and me trapping in the fresh wind. Just after the start the trap line let go and I was swimming. Phillip saved the boat and I got brought back to the boat and we sat and waited for the race to finish.

Race one was racing and I got the trap lines re-done and we were ready for the start of race 2. We made the start and managed to finish in the 30’s the next couple races. We felt good with the boat and with 4 races on the day knew we could throw out the DNF in the first race of the day. We went back in and put the boat in its place for the night. We then went for the food being served and the beer was flowing all night. I bought a couple raffle tickets and ended up winning a nice Zhik hat and fleece. After that it was off to the hotel for some rest.

Thursday there was still a nice breeze blowing and we set out to the racing area. We settled in to do another four races and made some progress. Our team work was doing better and we got all four races completed. We were still at the back of the pack but we had boat speed we just needed to get the boat in tune with us. We had another disappointing day racing but we still had fun. After racing there was a class meeting and pizza and beer were served.

Friday was an early start as we had to make the drawbridge opening to get to the Gulf of Mexico. Several boats gathered and waited for the bridge. Tacking and jibing in a small channel till we got the opening. Once the bridge went up we made our way through the channel and then downwind out into the open Gulf. Kites were set and we were off on a nice leisurely sail to the race area. We again raced 4 races in a nice sea chop and some shifty conditions. We had a good day with the same results as before. We then had to sail in through the channel and a lot of short tacking to make it back. After sailing there was food and drinks while we waited for the Halloween Costume party. Music was provided by the RedBull truck and a great time was had by all.

Saturday we got to the boat early and were ready to hit the water. I was sore and hurting from 6 days of sailing but we took to the water and while waiting to start racing we got some beautiful sailing in as we had the whole bay to ourselves. After a couple reaches we set the kite and sailed down to the committee boat. The day started off nice but as we started racing the wind began to fall off. As we started the windward leg it was perfect condition. We were in a good spot but as the wind degan to slow we fell off the pace. Sailing heavy is not a great way to sail ing the F18 fleet. As we rounded the mark the wind had fallen to under 10.

We made it to the down wind mark and saw the shorten course flag. One more short lap in light shifty conditions and we were at the back of the fleet with a 44.
We then began the sail home and ended up being towed the last little way. Then we began setting the boat up for the ride home. Now the awards are handed out and Easton and Bird took first with the Ronstan rocket. We took 49 on the new boat. A great week of sailing at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron. Thanks to all involved in a great Regatta. We then finished loading the boats on the trailer and secured the double stack for the long ride home.

Sunday we took Phillip to the Airport and then went back and packed up the Hotel. After a nice breakfast we went and picked up the trailer and hit the road. I-75 north was the next few hours of the trip. We stopped in Georgia for lunch and Tennessee for dinner. We made it back to Cincinnati at about 4 in the morning and put the boats and truck in the side yard. Monday we took a day off and I made a nice lasagna for the whole family and we got to bed early.

Tuesday we set off early and had a nice drive through Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Again we did the set of three 300 mile legs and had a little rain in Iowa as our night came to an end. We ended up in Council Bluffs and called it a night. Wednesday we started with a nice Breakfast and got on the road early. We were battling a storm and had rain, snow, and wind all against us. We still managed to get our miles in and stopped in Wendover, Utah for the night.

Thursday morning we had a nice breakfast at the Peppermill Casino in Nevada and enjoyed a beautiful morning of driving. The sunrise in the mirror was beautiful as we came through the mountains. There was almost no wind and perfect driving conditions all the way into Reno. We then made our way over the mountains and rolled through Sacramento just before traffic got bad. We made it home to Fairfield and parked the trailer at the house. Saturday we will drive down to Redwood City to unload the trailer.
Summary of the trip, 6833 miles driven, 525 gallons of diesel ($2100), 13 states, $10,000 in repairs, 9 days of driving, 3 days waiting for repairs, 2 days of set up, 2 days of practice sailing, 5 days of racing, and countless memories that will live with me forever.

Richard Vilvens
Brand Ambassador
PSA Capricorn USA