Día Cuatro: The race is ON!

America's Cup race boat New Zealand 81

The race awaits us and we cannot wait for the race. So here’s the deal. Cabo Adventures owns four 24 meter America’s Cup Boats that were raced by Australian and New Zealand teams in actual America’s Cup races—one of which took second place in 2003. These are $15 Million boats, and the mainsail alone costs $150,000. Cabo is also the only place in the world where you can race in the modernized America’s Cups boats.

The "engine" of an America's cup boat: The grinders

We have signed up to be a part of the crew and race another team. We arrived at the dock early (thank goodness – adversity “conversation” avoided). We hadn’t had time to get breakfast, but fortunately they had these fabulous “Queen Crepes” that were delicious spinach, egg and cheese breakfast crepes. We were then prepped on both the history and the mechanics of the boats and what our role would be. We were basically going to be “grinders.” It’s about as glamorous as it sounds, and as hard. Here’s a job description from the America’s Cup website: “In a very real sense, the grinders are the engine of an America’s Cup boat. They man the winches that reel in all the sheets and halyards, putting immense stress on their bodies during any sail hoist, tack or gybe as they spend long periods of inactivity punctuated by sudden explosive bursts of energy.”

About to set sail on NZL 81

Before we were assigned to teams, one of the Captains, Tony, from Australia, says he needs a co-captain and it needs to be someone with a loud voice, that is used to being listened to, bossy, used to getting their own way and is usually right. As I LOUDLY tried to volunteer Carl, he equally volunteered me, but my loud voice and demonstrative behavior made me an easy target. We finished dividing teams and then set out for our boats. We were assigned to the New Zealand 81 boat. It really is an amazing boat, but the most impressive part really is the mast, which is 112 ft tall. The boat itself isn’t too large or intimidating, but the mast and sails are incredible. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the winch!

As we were gently motoring out of the harbor, we were fortunate enough to see a mama humpback whale and her calf breaching. What an amazing blessing for us on Mexican Mother’s Day!

Mama humpback whale and her calf off the port side of the boat

Looking down from the top of the mast (112 ft high)

Our first order of business was to raise the mainsail—and I will tell you that I consider myself to be in pretty good shape and lift weights regularly—but those five minutes of rapid forward cranking, backward cranking, forward cranking were very strenuous. I started getting worried that the entire two hours were going to be as arduous. Fortunately (somewhat unfortunately) that was not to be the case. That was as hard as we would have to work all day as the wind wasn’t particularly cooperative early on and we really didn’t get much above 3 knots, so we didn’t need to frequently aggressively “grind.” As a result, we lost the first “practice” race.

Tacking...

Post-race celebratory Pacifico in hand -- at the helm heading back to port

We then took the boats further out on the ocean in the hunt for wind. Everything depends on the wind. We finally found a good spot and the second race was staged. They even have the official countdown as they do in America’s Cup Race to start the race, and the huge blow horn by the committee boat when you cross the finish line. We picked up much better speed on the second race and got up to 12 knots. It was immeasurably more fun to go faster. Participating in the grinding really did make you feel like you were working on the boat and a part of a team. An utterly astonishing experience that I will not soon forget. Those of you who know Carl well can only imagine how much fun this was for him. As we were sailing back to the marina, Carl had the opportunity to take the helm (cerveza Pacifico in hand) and steer the boat through the gently cutting waves. He looked right at home.

NZL 81 creating some distance from NZL 82

Nearing the finish line

Sweet victory

After the race

The humidity and moisture had rolled in as did the heat, which started to make the need to find a nice spot for lunch an imperative. After a very traditional lunch we headed back to the resort for one last quiet evening before heading home tomorrow afternoon.

Perfect end to a perfect day

Buenas noches

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3 Comments

  1. Beverly Chase
    Posted May 11, 2010 at 8:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What an adventure you two are having! I wish I could be there with you, it sound just wonderful. The room, the butler, the rose petals, great food, wonderful companion, what more could you ask for! Enjoy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Dad
    Posted May 12, 2010 at 7:11 am | Permalink | Reply

    I am learning by clicking on headings. Just found this one. Hard to believe the things you two are able to do. It’s really wonderful. Dad

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