North Sails NEWS
NORTH EXPERT WILL WELLES SNATCHES J/24 NORTH AMERICAN TITLE
Sailing In Valle de Bravo Creates The Ultimate Experience
Story by Will Welles
If you ever get invited to go sailing in Mexico make sure you clear your schedule as the Mexicans have it down on how to run a regatta! They welcome out of towners with open arms and roll out the red carpet, making everything on shore easy and relaxed- which feels like a vacation.
The 2019 North American Championships were held at “the lake” which is Valle de Bravo, a piece of heaven on Earth. The lake is about a two-hour drive from Mexico City and located high in the mountains. Many teams (local and from away) used the Mexican Nationals as a tune up for the North Americans as it was held in the same venue the weekend before. Our team used the Monday between to relax, catch up on work and see the town. On Tuesday we went straight into race one of the NAs. Don’t get me wrong, the mornings were pretty relaxed as the breeze doesn’t come in until the afternoon with the first warning signal around noontime.
“Valle de Bravo “the lake” in Mexico is a piece of heaven on Earth.”
Basically, the wind blows from the same direction every day in Valle de Bravo. The cloud cover determines if the breeze comes at all or how quickly and strong. On a clear day (which most days seem to be pretty clear in Valle de Bravo) the wind comes right on time. After the Nationals the away teams had figured out that we had to protect the right side, it seemed to work nine times out of ten, once in awhile the left would work and you had to commit till the end. The wind velocity was up and down, lots of gear changes and decisions about the rig tension between races. At the bottom of the course it was typically 6-8 knots and at the top of the course it was 10-12, sometimes a little lighter at the bottom and a little stronger at the top.
With pretty flat water we figured it wouldn’t be awful to be a little tighter on the rig but the lulls were big and long. We pretty much stuck at base (20 on the uppers and 15 on the lowers, Loos model B tension gauge) 90% of the time. A couple races early on we sailed one step up and a couple more races we sailed at a half step in between. Towards the end of the North Americans it seemed to be a little lighter so we just sailed at base, it was pretty nice in the light stuff and we had the backstay to pull on at the top of the course in the breeze.
We received lots of questions shore side about gear shifting. Here is how I think about it:
[As they say, pick your poison]
- Crew hiking hard
- Traveler down
- Backstay on
- When you run out of backstay go to vang sheeting
- Ease Genoa in the big puffs. (along with main)
- Pull genoa cunningham on in the big puffs. You want to set the halyard for the lulls to keep you powered up
*(Reverse in lulls for max power)
The key is keeping the boat flat in the puffs and powered up in the lulls. A big shout out to my team, Aroldo de Rienzo, Rich Bowen, PJ Schaffer and John McCabe. It was a memorable trip to Mexico!
J/24 Mexican Nationals – 1, 2*, 3, 4, 8, 9 powered by North Sails. Congratulations local Ken Porter, 2019 Mexican National Champion.
J/24 North Americans – 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8 powered by North Sails. Congratulations Will Welles.