Speaking of Hawaii, Jon Shampain breaks down The Pac Cup from on board one of the favourites to win it, the SC 50 Horizon…
PacCup, SF to Hawaii with the finish area at Kaneohe is a great offshore challenge and way nicer place to finish instead of that hole that is the Ala Wai and Waikiki. With 5 different start day, things can become a bit dicey rather quickly. Horizon, a SC 50 is sailing the race as it is the only west coast race to Hawaii we haven’t done yet. Last Monday it looked as if the first starters would leave with the advantage of a serious Gale offshore. It turned out that the gale was both a bit too north and west for the little boats to reach. Tuesday starters fared a bit better. Then Wednesday, the breeze crapped out completely and the Wednesday starters struggled to make 75nm in their first 20 hours racing. Our start had the usual Bay pressure inside the Golden Gate (we saw some puffs in the mid 20’s) but it lightened up outside, but we still had 12-16 with some lighter areas for our first night at sea. The sea state, which can be very serious in this part of the Pacific Ocean (and seriously uncomfortable) was quite smooth for what is usually one of the harder 250nm of this race.
Unlike Transpac, which caters to all the big monied racing programs, PacCup encourages, smaller boats, double handed boats, family boats and usually it fills it’s 70 entry limit months in advance. This year with all of the problems the economy has brought across our country the fleet is more modest with 55+/- yachts. The fleet consists of a wide array of cool sailing vessels, small sport boats like a pair of Synergy 1000, Farr 30, Columbia 30′; little ULDB’s like SC 27’s, Express 27’s, Olsen 30’s, 2 Hobie 33’s, one crewed and the other double handed, an Olsen 40′, 2 open Mini Transat’s; it makes for some interesting sailing. In the smaller big boat class that we are in, we have an new Open 40 Antrim design being sailed by Liz Baylis and the boat’s designer, Hula Girl, the almost SC 50 that the Cayard family took in the last edition of this race, Deception, the last SC 50 ever to be built, War Pony a Farr 36′, an Andrews 56′, a Schumacher 52, and a J-160. The big boys of the gold plate fleet have the coolest tools; Jeff Thorp sailing the Criminal Mischief (a RP 45′ and the sexiest boat on the west coast), Limit another RP 63′ from Australia, Mirage a SC 70, Pegasus an Open 50 (with Zan on board), Mayhem a TP52 and another Antrim design, Rapid Transit, an unknown quantity. Both Antrim designs will be sailing this race as their sea trails, as both are only recently finished and splashed.
We are about 36 hours at sea as I write this and we’ve had a Hvy#1 up all day and all night and now all day again. The weather has been very strange, bitterly cold, ocean water bitterly cold and the usual Pacific High is everywhere except where it needs to be. Large wintertime looking Lows continue to march across the north Pacific and the weather set up is constantly changing giving navigators ulcers. The first starters are now only getting to the gradient breeze about at 130W and finally smiles will come out as kites go up, you get to turn down towards Hawaii, knowing in a day or 2 the foul gear will no longer be needed, the boat will go flat so cooking becomes much less of a battle.
I’m lucky, my son is sailing with us and the crew has been together for a long time. We have a bunch of new sails built at the Newport Ullman loft at which Erik works. Today’s results have the Thursday starters sweeping the overalls, thank you Thursday start! That lead won’t last long as the big dogs start Saturday with a better outlook.