North Sails LOFT NEWS

Story Contributors: Brian Janney


North Sails Expert Brian Janney Shares Insights

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Tell us about the conditions of the race. 

The race start in a light air, 8 knots and we were headed south, sailing upwind. Our forecast said that the cold front and westerly winds would pick up around 4pm the first day. It came true, we then started to sail in 20+ knots all the way to the finish. The last 30 miles lightened up to around 14 knots.  Our best 24 hour run was avg of 19.34 knots boat speed, sailing 464nm (the Cabo race is rated around 800 miles).

How did this year’s race differ from previous years?

It was windy from the first night until all of the boats crossed the finishline. I think it was a fast race for everyone this year!

What was your sail inventory for the race?

We have a 100% North Sails inventory. The boat got the turbo mast (+3m taller than a standard VO70) in 2016 and came with a full suite of 3Di upwind sails. Roy has started to replace the inventory. We currently have a 3Di Mainsail (and she’s seen many, many miles!), MH0, J0, J2, Helix J4, A2, Helix A3, FR0, Helix Genoa Staysail, 3Di Storm Jib Staysail.

Why is 3Di great for offshore racing?

Volvo 70 sails were heavy when they used 3DL now with 3Di the sails weigh less which is a big deal when you have to move the sail stack every gybe. Another benefit is how strong the sails are, because they are composite and not a laminate we don’t need to be worried about mylar cracking or the sail delaminating.  

What benefits did your Helix A3 provide as far as speed?

The new 3Di Downwind 600 is an amazing product both in construction and how it flies. We have load cells at every tack point on the boat and with our old paneled A3 we would have 8,000 kg on the tack point, in 20 knots of wind we were seeing 5,500 kg! That’s a huge load reduction. We saw the same thing with our new Helix J4 the tack loads have been reduced by at least 20%. Because the 3Di sail doesn’t stretch as much, every time we got a puff you could feel the boat accelerate. 

How did conditions leading up to the race helped you decide on sail inventory selection?

Starting a week out Peter Isler (our navigator) saw it was looking like a windy race was going to happen. Each day that he ran the new weather models the difference between slow and fast routes kept shrinking and lining up. We started the discussion 2 days before the start about what sails to take. Because the forecast looked good we decided to take off the J0 (masthead jib). We almost took the J2 off of the boat but because we were worried about the exit out of Newport Beach and having to keep up with Rio 100 we took it with us, sadly we never used it.

Was there one sail in particular that “saved the day” during the race?

Hands down the new Helix A3! Can’t say enough about that sail. 


What did you do personally and with your team to prepare for this race?

We sailed the Islands Race which was also windy and good practice for the Cabo race. Most of the teams did the same thing. Since we had a few new sails for the boat we were lucky to have Steve Calder, lead downwind sail designer for North Sails, come out and look at our set up. With Helix sails, you need to make sure you have the correct luff tension. 

What’s your best piece of advice for those looking to tackle the race next year?

The Cabo race is every other year, next year is the San Diego to PV race (1,000 miles) I would do the So. Cal 300 this year, Islands Race next year then PV.

How does it feel to set a new monohull record for the race? And win overall?

It’s always something special because it is so hard to do, you don’t only need a fast boat but need Mother Nature to work with you. Because of our canting keel and powered winches we never think there is a chance to win the Overall, that was a big surprise to all of us! I know Roy is really happy with how the boat and team performed. 

What is Pyewacket doing in preparation for the Transpac?

We have a new Main, Helix J2, R2 (Fr0 replacement) and Helix Inner Staysail that will be delivered before the Transpac. With the new 3Di tape layouts we are going to save almost 10% on the weight of the main. We are going to sail the Newport to Ensenada Race and have a few sailing days in June. Our goal for Transpac is to be First to Finish, there a few boats who will also be in contention (Rio 100, Lucky- mini maxi 72)

Why should clients on the west coast choose North Sails?

The sail technology speaks for itself, but the people really make the difference. Just look at all of the offshore experience we have working for us. A customer needs to trust that their sales rep is recommending the correct tool for the job and I know we have a team working at North that can answer that question. One upgrade people should look at doing is adding the zipper system to their spinnakers. It cuts down on trash going into the water and it’s also faster to pack the sail than using yarn. 


Story Contributors

#NSVictoryList: Newport to Cabo headshot
Brian Janney

Sail Expert — San Diego, California

Brian holds multiple National and North American titles in the Melges 24, Melges 32, 1D35, Snipe and Capri 14.2 classes. Other titles include: US Sailing Championship of Champions Farr 40 World Championships (Corinthian) Two time member of Congressional Cup winning team World Match...

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