Monday, October 26, 2009

J/80 Autumn Trophy Series- Spain

Bilbao Squalls Make For Exciting Racing
(Bilbao, Spain- Sept 19-20)- It was a clear victory for Jose Azqueta in the first test of the Autumn Trophy Series for J/80s racing off Bilbao.  It was also the J/80s first racing since the long summer break. The weather conditions were harsh but fun since it blew 15 to 25 knots large seas on top of a huge ground swell.  These conditions made it challenging upwind but the crews were showered with salt spray from monstrous bow waves as the teams had fun planning wildly downwind on the big seas and swells.

The start was rather uneven as it was highly favored to the Race Committee boat and there was not much room on the line.  So whomever won the Race Committee boat end enjoyed a ginormous advantage over their competitors.  The boats that had strong starts - Mandovi and Montarto - held their lead up the first leg.   However, because of a strong right shift, they ended up second and third at the weather mark behind Azqueta's team; Bizkaia rounded fourth.  After a wild planing downwind leg, Mandovi dropped back to fourth. 

A strong squall of rain and wind buffeted the fleet with Azqueta lengthening their lead over Montarto and Bizkaia- that's how the first weekend ended up for the Autumn Trophy Series.  The Race Committee canceled the second race because the squally conditions had deteriorated to the point where the ability to race safely around the course would be difficult for most teams.