Caleb Everett's 'Stewball' Melges 32 Wins 2007 Spinnaker Cup

1 June 2007

Article Courtesy of Caleb Everett — Check out this great article accompanied by results and video of Caleb sailing the 2007 Spinnaker Cup from San Francisco to Monterey, California.

We’ve had our Melges 32, Stewball, out on San Francisco Bay since the middle of April and have gotten some great rides in practice, but we had been anxious to put the boat in its element in a nice downwind race and give the big boats a run for their money. We tried the Duxship ocean race, but the wind shifted around in front of us on each leg and we only got to fly the spin for the last bit of the approach to the finish line. We thought the Vallejo race was ours for the taking, but alas, it was also an upwind affair (the boat sails well enough upwind that we were still able to win our division). We were beginning to think we were jinxed and so it was at the start of the Spinnaker Cup as well.

We were in the second start, just west of Angel Island and there was decent breeze, maybe 15 knots, so we were quick to get out through the Golden Gate in a pack with the Sydney 38s and a 1D35, but once we turned south after mile rock, sure enough, the wind went light and shifted to the south, so we were beating to weather yet again. In full disclosure there was some discussion on the boat as to whether we had it in us to do a full 88 miles upwind to Monterey, but we stuck it out and finally got our code zero up around Montara, maybe 15 miles down the coast. At that point the breeze was still pretty light, 7 or 8 knots, but we started to pull away from the pack of boats we had been sailing with.

Things started to get interesting around Pescadero, just before Ano Nuevo, about 40 miles down the coast, where the wind started to pick up in earnest. We had changed out to our runner between Montara and Pescadero as the wind lifted further back to the North. Once the wind got up to 14 knots, the boat planed off doing 10 or 11 knots over the water and we really started pulling away from the boats behind us. We stayed pretty close to shore the whole way down to Davenport where the wind was up to the low 20’s and the boat was consistently doing 14 knots and up to 18 down waves. Boats in front of us started coming up really fast. I think we passed a Swan 45 and two Santa Cruz 50’s in the start ahead of us just after the entrance to Monterey Bay.

We jibed into Monterey Bay maybe a third of the way down and managed to stay in the breeze pretty much all the way in to the finish. About 6 miles out, the winded started backing off and heading so we went down to the code zero for a bit then onto the jib for the last mile or two.

We were the fourth boat to finish, passing most of the negative rating boats in the start ahead of us. We took first place in our division and overall, correcting out over an hour ahead of the second place boat. Driving the boat through the waves at speed was awesome – the boat is so controllable at speed, it felt like surfing, just on a much bigger board, going much faster! I felt bad about not giving up the helm for more than twenty minutes or so, but I was having such a great time, I just couldn’t let go.

Here’s a link to short video clip of the boat going downwind. It’s actually in St. Petersburg, but gives a pretty good sense of what the boat is like at speed.