A view of the America’s Schooner Cup from MARTHA’s helm.
The morning of the Schooner Cup revealed an overcast sky with a thick marine layer blanketover San Diego. The forecasts from various sources predicted wind West North West 7 to 10 with one outlier predicting West 12.
The decision was made to bend on the Genoa, MARTHA and crew motored out to the start line for a 1200 hrs start. By 1130 the wind was well over the 7, 10 and 12 knot range and approaching 15. After consulting with the crew we decided not to switch gears down to the working jib and stay with the Genoa, which with hindsight was the wrong decision.
The start was brilliant as CURLEW and FAME were on the line with the gun and MARTHA close on their heels. With the sail power and waterline available to CURLEW and MARTHA we quickly left our little sister FAME behind and fetched our way to the # 4 turning buoy.
MARTHA, with a bone in her teeth, working right up to within feet of CURLEW’s quarter wave, the two girls in lock step as if we were attached by a powerful bungee chord.
As we approached the # 4 buoy the tactical talk turned to how to get by CURLEW who was every bit as fast as MARTHA and well sailed. CURLEW’s master and crew had no intention of moving over and letting us by, as we came up they covered and shut the door and the same for trying to sail through their lee. It was decided to split from CURLEW, if she tacks to port at #3 we stay on starboard, if she stays on starboard tack we wait for advantage and go over on port, lay the #3 buoy and head for the barn.
Our moment came as CURLEW over stood buoy #3, as we came up into the wind to tack we could see CURLEW doing the same to cover us , but it was a few boat lengths too late, MARTHA now commanded a 3 boat length advantage as the two thoroughbreds raced back into the bay past Point Loma.
And here the earlier decision to carry the Genoa began to show its unfortunate down side. The “power” fore reaching up into Point Loma was made a bit dicey by the gusts that would make its way down through the canyons and lay MARTHA down on her rail, we would respond with feathering up or easing the sheets to try to keep her on her feet. In the cockpit we were seeing boat speeds in the high 9s. But where things really got tough is when the wind hauled forward and our return the the bay became a beat.
Tack on tack with an over powered Genoa was not what we had planned on and tack on tack the other schooners made their way up and over us. With a bit of disappointment we realized the jig was up we were not going to be able to hold off our sisters but what a beautiful sight to see, the ROSE of SHARON, CURLEW, FAME, SKOOKUM III and DIRIGO II well sailed on their way to the finish line.
Check out the pics at the facebook link on our website or go to the Bay Shots site at
On the behalf of the crew of MARTHA and the Board of Directors of the Schooner Martha Foundation I want to thank the Staff and Members of the Silver Gate Yacht Club for their warm and generous hospitality and such a well run and fun event.
Captain Robert d’Arcy