Pierpont Performance Sailing Blog page 3

Newport to Ensenada 2014

This year’s Newport to Ensenada race was a strange one, weather-wise. Some forecasts were predicting gusts in the 30-40kt range off the San Diego coast sometime during the night. That’s record-breaking weather for the big 60-to-70 foot trimarans; it’s also boat-breaking weather. We were all a little anxious, expecting a wet and wild ride for the race.

The all-San Francisco crew (Jared Brockway, Dave Berntsen, Rick Waltonsmith, Danna Pomykal, Thierry de Froidmont) met at the boat in Ventura and we set off for Newport the day before the race. It was a long day (~90 miles), but we had beautiful weather all the way down. Lots of dolphin sightings too.

Race day started out breezy. A couple of the boats had already taken a reef, and we did too not long after the start. Soon after taking the reef and settling into a groove, it became apparent that something was not right. The leeward rigging was very slack and the crossbeams were flexing at the joints. Dave went forward to check, and sure enough, one of the four 5/16″ cable stays that give the boat its rigidity had broken. We retired from the race and headed back to Newport for repairs.
broken water stay

It was disappointing to have the race end so soon, but also a relief. If something was going to break, it was better to have it happen now than in the dark crossing the Coronado Islands in big wind. We weren’t the only casualty—last year’s race winner Afterburner had a breakage too and joined us for a lay day in Newport for repairs.

Newport was not a bad place to spend the day.

With all new synthetic high-tech stays to replace the original cabling, we were ready to go the next morning. The low pressure system that caused the nasty weather for the race had cleared up, and we had an extra day before needing to be back in Ventura. Feeling no reason to rush, we planned to overnight in Avalon before heading back up to Ventura. It was a bad decision in hindsight.

The sail to Avalon was beautiful and quick. On the way out of the harbor, we could see the newly-arriving warm front pushing the low-pressure system down the coast behind us. A welcome sight.
warm front

The harbor at Avalon. Always pretty.

The wind had reversed by the time we arrived at Avalon, and reversed again by the time we left. This warm front was turning out to be more than a return to the normal Southern California weather. The forecast was quickly changing, now showing strong Santa Ana winds coming from inland—and yet we still had the normal onshore breeze leaving Avalon.

The headwind and seas strengthened to the point that we decided to take shelter in Malibu’s Paradise Cove for the night rather than continue to Ventura. The Santa Ana wind arrived in the evening, reversing the wind direction and blowing hot and heavy offshore, continuing through the night. That was good for our trip up the coast because it meant the end of the headwinds. The warm, dry breeze from abeam was great but its extreme variability was nerve-wracking.
This is from the weather station at Leo Carrillo Beach, which we crossed a little after 9:00a. The wind would go from near-nothing to gale force within in a minute as we crossed mountain canyons. The most difficult was this “river of blood” at Port Hueneme. Something about the curvature of the mountains creates a massive offshore flow here during the Santa Anas. Normally the red fingers on the color-coded wind map would extend for a mile or so beneath the mountain canyons and then wither away, but this one took us several miles offshore before we escaped it.
Once we got to Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard, the offshore wind calmed down and we sailed the last five or six miles to Ventura with flat seas and a gentle onshore breeze. Amazing that we saw this range of conditions in the span of about five hours along the usually-placid SoCal coast.

Apologies to the crew for the changes to the float plan, but glad that we had some great sailing nonetheless..and some good weather stories to share.


F*** Winter

Nothing cures winter blahs better than a trip to the Sea of Cortez. Islands ringed with white sand beaches rise out of the water, where the navy blue of the deep sea gradually becomes the pale, watery turquoise. These are not Miles Davis’ kind of blues.
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With temperatures in the mid-80s and water temps in the 70s, the islands surrounding Loreto are a playground for water lovers. Sport fishermen in pangas, tourists in kayaks, and cruisers in their boats enjoy their own kind of leisure here.
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Any sailor will tell you there is something magical about the sound a boat makes slicing through the water. Turn off the motor, and it’s just the sound of the water moving over the hull—or hulls, if you’re into trimarans like us. The wind is usually moderate here, which performance sailboats like the Corsair love.

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Try it: A winter sailing trip to the Sea of Cortez. You won’t want to leave.
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A few more photos from the trip:
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The boat lives here in Puerto Escondido, an amazing natural harbor.

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Living the good life—this could be you.

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More kinds of blue.

The Baja Bash


This upwind trip along the desert (and mostly deserted) coast of the Baja Peninsula between Cabo San Lucas and San Diego is known as The Baja Bash. It has a reputation for being a chore because the sailing is often uncomfortable and difficult. It is a price many are willing to pay to sail that same 750 miles downwind the “right way” in the Baja Ha-Ha.

It is the first time we’ve done The Bash because we sailed previous Ha-Ha’s on Corsair 31s. These can be folded, loaded on a trailer, and towed behind an average-sized pickup truck or SUV. Orange, being a more substantial boat, is not so easy to break down and transport overland, so she would be sailing back on her own bottom.

We sailed out of Cabo San Lucas on Sunday, November 10, with Rick Waltonsmith (owner of Transit of Venus) and Danna Pomykal of the SF Bay Area. Both are experienced sailors looking for adventure and to see what The Bash was all about.

Bashing isn't so bad

Bashing isn’t so bad

It was a surprisingly pleasant trip considering its reputation, but we did get lucky with the weather. The afternoon of the second day out of Cabo was rough and windy, but that was the only really bad weather we had. One afternoon was so calm and glassy that we got out the SUP and wakeboarded behind the boat for fun.

Marine life was out and about during the trip. We saw hundreds of dolphins, a few whales, sea lions, and flying fish.

It took a while getting to Bahia Santa Maria due to strong headwinds, but after that, we were able to keep up a good pace motorsailing with moderate wind and mostly-flat seas. We arrived in San Diego in less than six days, nearly two days ahead of our planned best-case arrival. With time to spare and some nice weather ahead of us, Danna and I abandoned our plans to fly north from San Diego and sailed Orange the rest of the way up to Ventura by way of Avalon.

Day 1-2: Cabo to BSM

Day 1-2: Cabo to BSM

Day 3-4: BSM to Turtle Bay

Day 3-4: BSM to Turtle Bay

Day 5: Across Vizcaino Bay

Day 5: Across Vizcaino Bay

Day 6: Toward Ensenada

Day 6: Toward Ensenada

Final: SD to Ventura

Final: SD to Ventura

The Bash was hardly a chore for us, but our timing just happened to be right. It is said that the most dangerous thing on a boat is a calendar. This is particularly true for The Bash because the geography, current, and prevailing wind combine so that even moderate weather makes progress so difficult and slow that it’s just not worth the effort. Better to wait until there is clear weather ahead before venturing out. If you do, The Bash can be a lot of fun.

Baja Ha-Ha

Latitude 38’s Baja Ha-Ha Cruiser’s Rally is the most popular and well-liked sailing rally on the west coast. With its perfect mix of adventure and 750 miles of downwind sailing, there is no better way to spend ten days in November when the rest of the country is settling into fall weather blahs. The Baja sun and sailing is hard to beat!


We did the Baja Ha-Ha this year on Orange with three charter guests: Nelz Carpentier from Cal Sailing Club (and recently alumnus of the Clipper Round-the-World Race), John Ricks, and Carl Harrington.

The pictures tell the story better than words—here is Capt Pablo’s gallery from the trip.


The happy crew (in costume here as ’70’s tennis pros) arrived safely in Cabo on November 6 where they turned Orange over to Capt Jared and his delivery crew for the Baja Bash back to Ventura.

Weta West Coast Championships

West Coast Championship weekend was fun for all sizes with the Wetas, Hobies, and AC 72s racing simultaneously. Many of the Weta racers tuned their radios to listen in on the America’s Cup action while they were racing! The Pierpont girls had their dance cards full with Mary Ann (#739) sailed by the national class champion duo of Toni Sacco and two-time olympic silver medalist Randy Smyth, while Ginger (#738) was sailed by Robert Spencer of Dubai on Saturday, with Paul filling in on Sunday.

photo by Jennifer Kroon

photo by Jennifer Kroon

Chris Kitchen (below), sporting his New Zealand colors, handily won the regatta, beating local stars Dave Berntsen and Jonathan Weston. No one was surprised at that result, with Chris being a champion skiff sailor and co-designer of the Weta besides. No one knows their way around the boat better than Chris!

photo by Jennifer Kroon

photo by Jennifer Kroon

Weta Marine has a write-up of the event, Richmond Yacht Club has the results, and Jennifer Kroon has lots and lots of photos of the racing.

Totally Dinghy Regatta

photo by Jennifer Kroon

photo by Jennifer Kroon

The Pierpont girls saw double-duty this weekend with both sailing double-handed. It was the perfect intro-to-Weta sailing weekend with Saturday’s sunny and moderately windy weather as a warm-up to wetter and wilder Sunday.

photo by Jennifer Kroon

photo by Jennifer Kroon

Tri-curious dinghy sailors Stephanie Evans (above) and Molly Morelock (below) had a great time aboard. Double-handing gained popularity on Sunday when West Coast dealer Dave Berntsen joining the fun by having his daughters sail the first race together, then alternately sailing with him.

photo by Jennifer Kroon

photo by Jennifer Kroon

Local Weta aces Jonathan Weston, Dave Berntsen, and Marc Simmel (left to right) Consistently nailed the starts.

photo by Jennifer Kroon

photo by Jennifer Kroon

Photographer-on-the-scene Jennifer Kroon nailed this perfectly-timed shot showing the Weta fleet in perfect (fearful?) symmetry:

photo by Jennifer Kroon

Stay tuned while she edits and uploads the shots from Sunday’s racing….

Weekending on Santa Cruz Island

Charter guests Rick and Leslie enjoying the sun, snorkeling, and stand-up paddle boarding at Coches Prietos on Santa Cruz Island:

Anacapa Swim/Sail

Looks like our charter guests enjoyed their Labor Day trip to Anacapa Island on Orange!

anacapa swim stylized





Cal Sailing Club Weekend

Our friends Dan, Molly, Jennifer, Mark from Cal Sailing Club and Mark’s friend Nick came down for a three-day weekend at Pierpont Performance Sailing. We made the most of it, getting out the Wetas, the support RIB, and the big trimaran Orange for an overnight trip to Santa Cruz Island.

It was this group’s first time on a Weta—and their first time in Ventura Harbor. Fellow Weta sailor Bob Shirley was there to show them the way, and they wasted no time getting to the fun zone, taking the little boats outside the breakwater where the wind was blowing a brisk 15 knots.


We launched the support RIB soon after and followed them out to take some photos. Looks like they’re having a good time!


After a few full-throttle reaches around Pierpont Bay, everyone returned wet and smiling, ready for a warm shower and some chowder at Brophy Bros.

Friday night was spent aboard our big trimaran, Orange, which left us well-positioned for a morning departure to Santa Cruz Island in the morning. We set off at 9:00a, motoring west until the sea breeze filled in. The sun came out and so did the wind, sending us on a spirited beat to the island.


We dropped anchor at Pelican anchorage on the west side of the island in the early afternoon with plenty of daylight remaining for snorkeling, swimming, and exploring on the stand-up paddleboard.

Molly was planning a first-rate dinner of tossed salad, grilled chicken, and wild rice, so closer to sunset, she sent most of the crew ashore. You know what a smart move that was if you have ever tried to stage a complex meal in the galley of a boat with seven people aboard.

Paul took the shore crew in the support RIB to the drop site on the far side of the anchorage’s headland. We hiked up to the point to take in the views, and to look at the ruins of an old homestead overlooking the anchorage.


After taking in the scenery (and the smell of dinner on the grill), we were picked up by the RIB at the base of the caves on the near side of the headland. Paul took us back to Orange where we all enjoyed an excellent dinner and sundowners aboard.

One of the best things about overnighting on a trimaran is sleeping on the nets under the stars. Throw down a camping pad (for insulation) and a sleeping bag, and be lulled to sleep by the boat’s gentle motion (and the barking of sea lions).


The next morning, we left Orange at anchor and took the RIB along the coast of the island to Painted Cave. The cave is 160 feet tall at the entrance and has several chambers large enough to be navigable by boat. We took the RIB as far in as the third chamber, where sea lions huddle on a rock and entertain themselves by barking into the echo chamber under the island. It is absolutely dark at that point, so a flashlight is definitely recommended—especially if you are the least bit claustrophobic.


Cal Sailing Club is based in Berkeley, and with our guests still having a six-hour drive ahead of them, we returned to Orange, weighed anchor, and began the trip downwind back to Ventura. The spinnaker run back wasn’t quite as brisk as the beat over, but the dolphins came out to entertain us. We saw about six or seven separate pods; each came close enough to swim around and under the boats for a minute or two before continuing on their way.


It was a fun, boat-filled weekend with good weather and great company. We enjoyed hosting, and will likely have more tri-curious members of the club come down for some warm(er) weather SoCal sailing.


Check out the rest of the photos from our photographer-on-the-scene Jennifer Kroon.

High Sierra Regatta

High Sierra Regatta Race 1 video by Don Logan.

The High Sierra Regatta delivered Weta sailing at its finest this year with plenty of sun, flat water, and ideal wind. The 11-boat Weta fleet raced on the second weekend of the regatta along with PHRF boats, Viper 640s, Open 5.70s, Ultimate 20s, Thistles, Victories, and San Juans.

The two Pierpont Performance Sailing Wetas were chartered by Scott Poe and Don Logan of Newport Beach. No rookies to sailboat racing, they got up to speed quickly (literally and figuratively) and were finishing in the top half of the fleet by the first race. One of the highlights of the weekend was pushing Don and Scott off the dock for their first Weta sail on Friday. The late afternoon wind was mild and there was barely a hint of whitecapping on the water. They flipped down their rudders and lowered their daggerboards as the boats glided out toward the end of the dock. Just as they were settling in with the tiller extension and sheets, they got into the smooth wind outside the tree-lined launch area and WHOOSH!—in ten feet the boats went from stroll to gallop. Don and Scott were off across the lake giggling like teenagers.

We pulled the boats out of the water at the end of each day, rolling them on their dollies into the nearby parking lot (or somewhere on the margins) for the night. With the two-lane launch ramp and adjacent six-boat-wide beach, it didn’t take long to get whole fleets of dinghies in and out of the water each day.

Saturday was the first race. The Wetas had the fourth start behind the PHRF A, Viper 640, and Open 5.70 fleets. The course for the first race was #4: a long one to the lake’s uppermost mark, then ping-ponging back down the lake on the way back to the finish. The PPS support crew, equipped with cameras, paddle board, inflatable dinghy, and a kiteboarding kite drove to a launch point near the top mark to get some photos.

We arrived a little late—just in time to catch the last few Wetas rounding the mark. At least we were well-positioned for the second race…except that the course was shortened for the second race. We set off chasing the fleet downwind on the SUP and kite-powered inflatable dinghy. The kite-dinghy was a hit with spectators, who were probably expecting a spectacular wipe-out at any moment.

Saturday night was the Weta class get-together, hosted at our spacious Catavee campsite. Stories were swapped, rum was drunk, and a set of vintage retro-cool beach/camp furniture (Scott’s) was sold to another Weta sailor (Brian Grover from Encinitas), for a price that left buyer and seller thinking they got the better end of the deal. Bruce Fleming and his wife Shelly finished off the evening by demonstrating how to make banana boats on a campfire.

Sunday was the last day of the regatta, and since there was only one race, they made it the long course again. We made it to the top mark in time to see Dave “Dave-O” Berntsen way out in front for the rounding. On the way back down to the finish, Dave-O was still first, having passed most of the Viper fleet (Vipers started ten minutes before the Wetas) Official scores posted at the Fresno YC site.

Scott and Don both did remarkably well for first-time Weta sailors, finishing fifth out of the eleven boats that raced. How did they both finish fifth? Well, there were some mix-ups in the scoring with the end result being that Don got to accept the fifth-place trophy at the awards ceremony, only to discover that one scoring mix-up still remained. Doing some mental correction on the official results, Don realized that Scott had pipped him by one point, making Scott the rightful fifth-place finisher. We’ll call it a tie so they will be motivated to come back and settle their friendly competition next year.

Photos from Genevieve Peterson’s High Sierra Regatta photo stream