The most bummer sailing day I have ever had. I had to find a new crewmember for the Pacific Cup after Jonathan tore a ligament in his hand. John recommended Paul, a competent sailor who was in the Pacific Cup in 2016, and had years of racing experience on the bay. Today was the first sail with him, and I wanted to practice with the spinnaker and give Paul a chance to learn all the rigging on the boat. As we were prepping the boat at the dock, we got news that the Farallones race was called due to high winds at the island. Not that it mattered as we were not in that race, but we checked the forecast, 25-35 knots at the island. That’s a lot of wind, but typical for the Farallones, and I sailed Eliana in that race last year with that much wind. We decided to sail out to the number 8 buoy, maybe ¼ of the way to the islands, turn around, set the kite and come back under the spinnaker.
We didn’t get very far out of the gate and decided that while the wind wasn’t toooo crazy, we didn’t want to fly the kite in it. So we turned back, and decided to practice in the bay where there was some shelter. We came back under the gate, passed through an area aptly named hurricane gulch, and when the wind was steady and predictable got ready to set the kite. I was on the helm, Paul and John were on the foredeck, and Tony and Mary on the sheets. After confirming with everyone they were ready, Paul raised the kite. It went up quickly and cleanly. It began to fill and looked like a perfect set. We turned our attention to furling the jib, when we suddenly rounded up and broached. When Eliana heeled over, the spreaders touched the water, and water started coming into the cockpit. The spinnaker pole went straight up, and when the boat righted itself, the spinnaker was wrapped around the top of the mast.
It took a bit of work to get the kite down and back on the deck. My brand new, only have been flown one time before, spinnaker was more or less shredded. One tape was torn completely off, and there were several large tears across it. The good news is that nothing (wind instruments, VHF antenna, etc.) was damaged at the top of the mast, and neither was the spinnaker pole. Also good news, is that despite the Pacific Cup being only 3 weeks away, my local sail loft was able to rebuild the sail in less than a week. At $1700 it was more than half the cost of a new sail, but there really wasn’t anything I could do about it.